Loneliness is a painful feeling that often results from experiencing dissatisfaction in your social world– perhaps because of a lost relationship, a change in a relationship, or difficulty connecting with others in a meaningful way.
Loneliness acts as a signal telling you that you are not experiencing the amount of desired companionship or emotional support that you want and/or need.
Overcoming loneliness requires a multilayered approach. I’ve created the “OWW!” model to help you remember how to combat that painful feeling:
1. Observe (“O”):
- View loneliness as a signal about what’s happening in your life. It’s important to observe this emotion with curiosity about what it’s telling us, rather than judging or labeling it, or judging or labeling ourselves, for experiencing it.
- Practice mindfulness to notice and reflect on your thoughts and feelings.
- Engage in self-compassion exercises by mindfully accepting that you are experiencing pain while treating yourself with kindness.
- Remember that loneliness is one part of your experience, not your entire experience. Look at the big picture!
a. Since we can’t just “snap out” of a feeling, we can work through the feeling by editing our thoughts and actions.
b. Challenge the thoughts that are contributing to the feeling of loneliness.
These thoughts may include: “I will never find that relationship,” “No one wants to hang out with me,” “I’m not good at making new friendships.” Look for evidence to suggest otherwise, and challenge these extreme and rigid thoughts by coming up with alternative perspectives.
c. Do the opposite of what the feeling wants you to do.
We often let our emotions dictate our actions, but the research shows that what we do affects how we feel, not vice versa. This means that we have the power to change our emotional experience by acting in a way that opposes the negative feeling.
So when your loneliness tells you to not make that phone call or skip that party–do the opposite! This will challenge your negative beliefs about yourself while helping you change the very thing that is contributing to your loneliness.
3. Focus on Wellness (“W”):
a. The very first step in learning how to regulate our emotions is taking care of our bodies.
You can decrease the impact of negative emotions by maintaining a balanced diet, getting restorative sleep, engaging in frequent exercise, and doing something that you feel proud of on a daily basis.
b. Engage in self-soothing activities involving all of your senses.
i.e., light a candle, have hot tea, take a warm shower, look at pictures that evoke positive memories, play your favorite song, etc.
c. Do activities that you love.
A secondary bonus is that you may meet people at these activities who you can relate with. Feeling connected to others, rather than just being surrounded by others, is a great way to overcome loneliness.
d. Increase your confidence by doing things that you are good at, setting accomplishable goals for yourself, and/or volunteering.
Feeling competent and accomplished contributes to good mood and overall wellbeing.
Psychotherapy can help. Seek a trained therapist to help you utilize these concepts in a personalized, more detailed way.
Jodie Eisner, PsyD – www.drjodieeisner.com
Everyone experiences loneliness at some point in their life, and it can be very frustrating when you feel like you don’t have support from people around you.
When you feel lonely, it can be difficult to enjoy your day-to-day activities, and you might find yourself feeling sad or angry more often than usual as well.
However, there are steps you can take to overcome this unpleasant feeling, connect with others around you, and become more satisfied with your own company as well.
Here are four strategies that you can use to overcome feelings of loneliness.
- Get involved in hobbies or activities that intrigue you.
Many people find themselves feeling lonely when they aren’t engaged or happy with their day-to-day activities.
If you find yourself just going back and forth to work each day without participating in other activities that you are passionate about, it can be difficult to feel satisfied and happy in your own company.
If you already have a hobby that you have been neglecting, carve out some time in your schedule to engage with it again. If you don’t have a hobby, think about activities you’ve always wanted to try!
You’ll be surprised by the opportunities that you have when you open your mind to them. If you like to read, look for book clubs in your area on local meet-up websites.
If you like sports, look for a local recreational sports league to join. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to draw, paint, or cook, take a class at a local studio or school. There are endless possibilities if you keep an eye out for them.
- Say ‘yes’ more often.
Another helpful tip for overcoming loneliness is to be more open-minded to social events. If you’re introverted, this can be difficult at first, but with some practice, you’ll find that you can make plenty of new friends just by saying ‘yes’ a little more often.
For example, if you are at work and there’s a group happy hour, make the effort to go even when you’d normally stay home and watch TV. Even if you don’t necessarily love your coworkers, you might see a different side of them, and at the very least, you’ll get some extra social connection that you wouldn’t get otherwise.
Another strategy is to keep an eye out for exciting events in your city that are posted online.
If you’re on social media, you probably get invites to food festivals, outdoor yoga, local concerts, and other exciting events. Even if you don’t know anyone, get out there and give it a try – you never know what new friends you might make.
- Do something good for someone else.
When we’re feeling lonely, it can be very easy to spiral into thinking about our own negative feelings. This can actually make your feeling seem much more intense and overwhelming, and it will be harder to climb out of them if you are feeling this way.
To prevent yourself from sinking into loneliness, try to do something nice for someone else.
This could be something as simple as asking an acquaintance how their day is going to something more involved, like volunteering for a cause that you care about. When you shift your focus onto others in a positive way, you’ll find that your spirits get a pleasant boost.
- Take steps to change your thought patterns.
There are certain negative thoughts that go along with loneliness. You may find yourself thinking that you’re not worthy of friendship, that reaching out to others isn’t worth the effort, or that you’ll always feel this way. You need to do everything in your power to change these thought patterns to break out of your loneliness.
Start to take notice when you fall into these negative thoughts, and correct them with a positive thought, even if it feels disingenuous at first.
Over time, positive thinking will become a habit. If your thoughts persist, don’t be afraid to see a therapist as well. They can provide you with positive support and coping mechanisms that will help you feel better over time.
Loneliness is a very challenging emotion, and it’s something that we all go through, particularly during transitional periods of our lives.
However, you can take steps to feel better during a trying time. Changing your habits using the strategies in this article will make a big difference in your overall feelings of loneliness.
It may take some time, but with some effort and consistency, you’ll find yourself feeling happy again.
Judy Dyer, Bestselling Author – www.pristinepublish.com/judy-dyer/