"How to stop feeling lonely?" Despite the fact you might feel completely isolated right now, it’s a question that everyone’s wondered at some point because all of us have felt lonely in our lives. Loneliness is something everyone deals with, especially in the age of COVID. It’s completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. But if we can help it, which we can, we can work to overcome it and get back to our good old selves again.
Learning how to cope with loneliness might sound impossible, but by making small goals and taking it one step at a time, it’s 100% possible. And as it’s Mental Health Week, it’s the perfect time for us to address it. So here’ are a few tips for how to cope with loneliness.
Accept your emotions
Some people feel like they shouldn’t be lonely or feel guilty for it. But we all get lonely, regardless of how many friends we have or how often we go out. You can feel lonely in a room packed with people. Even Beyoncé gets lonely. Seriously. How you feel is not your fault. Remind yourself of this.
Talk about it
Yeah, yeah, we know everyone says it all the time. But they say it for a reason: it’s good advice. Talk to someone you know, some stranger online, a doctor, post a rant on r/OffMyChest - just do something to get it out.
Get in touch with your friends
Hang out with your friends! If you feel up for it, of course. If you can speak to them about it, even better. But if you aren’t ready yet, perhaps just hanging out with them regularly will help. Maybe see a comedy show every Thursday or make Sunday’s movie days.
Meet new people and take it slow if you need
As we alluded to in the last tip, you might not be ready to see people yet. So what you can do instead is essentially microdose socialising by attending online events or events where you aren’t expected to interact with anyone, like an online course or yoga lesson. When you’re ready, you can try apps like Meetup to find people who share the same interests as you.
Not a fan of people? Hang out with animals. Dog or cat sit, walk someone's dog or even volunteer in an animal shelter. It’s a great way to get out of your head and socialise without dealing with humans.
Go out on your own
Going out solo is becoming increasingly common. There are even TikTok accounts where people document themselves going out on their own to show how fun it can be (check them out. Just search “go out alone” or similar in the app). Once you’re out and about, you might even make a few new mates. But even just being in an environment where there are other people can help, even if you don't interact with anyone.
Go easy on the substances
A lot of people turn to booze when they feel lonely, but it can actually make it worse. And alcohol and other drugs are known for causing rebound anxiety. We’re not saying you have to go straight edge; how you live is entirely up to you. But simply cutting down or saving alcohol for certain social events could be a good idea.
Find a healthy outlet
Common healthy ways to vent emotions include journaling, writing stories or poetry, getting into sports, writing music, the list goes on. Choose something that speaks to you and either takes your mind off those feelings or directly addresses them, allowing you to process how you feel.
Look after yourself
Our emotions are affected by our lifestyle. That means sleep, diet, exercise, time spent outdoors, and, of course, drugs and alcohol have a huge effect. So make sure you’re living your best, healthiest life.
And try meditation. Yeah, it’s another one everyone bangs on about, but, again, it's good advice. It improves mental and physical health after just a few months of practice. We know it sounds like a chore, but long term, meditation can increase relaxation, concentration, happiness, self-awareness, and other positive emotions. Give it a go, there’s nothing to lose!
Stop comparing yourself to others
Easier said than done, of course, but it's a process. Social media is a bugger for it. It’s easy to look at Instagram and think, “wow, they’ve got their lives together, they have so many friends”. But the people on your feed might feel lonelier than you do. And for all we know, the pictures they just posted might’ve been taken three years ago with complete strangers they didn’t even speak to. The same goes for colleagues, friends and strangers you see in the street. Anyone can look happy and accomplished, but we have no idea what's going on in their lives.
If it gets too much, seek professional help
They’re professionals after all. While the advice we’ve given is strong and supported by research, your health and current situation is unique to you. It's possible a doctor or psychiatrist could identify underlying causes that, when addressed, can help you feel less lonely. Lots of people have benefited from therapy, including Justin Bieber, Megan Thee Stallion, Ariana Grande, Jay-Z, Prince Harry, Chance the Rapper, Kid Cudi, and Pete Wentz.
One of the most important things to remember when learning how to cope with loneliness is that literally everyone feels lonely at some point. It’s not something you should feel guilty or bad about. But if you do, that’s completely normal too. It can be tricky, but by focusing on yourself and trying to get yourself back out there, it’s possible to control these feelings and get back to your old self. But if it’s too much, it might be a good idea to talk to a professional.
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