Have you ever been in a relationship where you have difficulty communicating?
“The people you thought you can count on ended up making you feel more alone. You’d rather be alone than to be with people who make you feel lonely”
There are people all around you that you can count on, but you still feel like no one is there for you.
If you resonate with the above descriptions, you may be feeling lonely.
As reported by Pew Research Survey, more than 25% of people over age 60 live alone, and more than 43 percent said they felt lonely before the COVID-19 pandemic even began. Young people are not exempt from loneliness. One survey found that students aged 18 to 22 have the highest levels of loneliness, and being a student is heavily associated with high scores on the Cigna US loneliness index.
With that said, below are some tips that you can do to combat your loneliness:
- Find a safe circle to engage with
One way to combat loneliness is to find a safe circle that you can engage with on a regular basis. This circle can be anything, it can be a volunteer group, hiking buddies, non-profit organisation, or an online support group. When you take up the chance to meet up with new people, you will find yourself less lonely, enjoy camaraderie and friendships.
- Find a balance of people versus things.
Do you find yourself too focused on your work that you have no time to spend with your loved one or things that are enjoyable to you? Perhaps for you, you have to spend countless hours working to pay for food on your table. Therefore, take time to pause and reflect: what is currently causing me stress, loneliness, and unbalance? How can I achieve a better balance between work and personal priorities? Building relationships requires investment. To invest in new relationships and make time for current friends, one must sacrifice time and resources. The key to building authentic relationships and reducing loneliness is to find the balance between the two.
- Audit your friends.
“Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there.”
When surrounded by your friends, do you feel like everyone seems to get along with each other well, except you? You are with your group of friends, but you still feel lonely deep down. There are a few reasons why you are feeling this way. Perhaps you hide your true self, rooted in fear of not being accepted by others around you. Maybe you don’t open up to people because you feel insecure about certain aspects of your personality. Another reason can be that you try hard to be perfect, so your imperfections never get accepted. It could be you never give other people a chance to accept (or reject you). Thus, reflect on these reasons. Find your sense of self-concept and self-value, and audit your circle of friends so that it is aligned to what you truly are. It is incredibly empowering to realise that you can be your authentic self, and people don’t mind.
- Get a pet, or spend time with someone else’s.
Are you moving to a new town and struggling to find a new circle of friends? Perhaps most social gatherings are prohibited. You can consider getting a pet. When you interact with the animals the neurotransmitter dopamine will be released in the brain, causing you to feel the pleasure and rewards when you are lonely. A walk with your dog or a trip to the vet can also serve as a chance to start up a conversation with other pet owners.
- Check your social media usage.
Let’s evaluate your social media usage. Do you use it to make meaningful connections, or do you spend too much time on it? Do you feel dissatisfied with the face-to-face relationships that you find yourself retreating into the world of social media? Perhaps when you are scrolling your social media feed, it looks as if other people have better jobs, better houses, and better relationships than we do. Therefore, if you feel that your social media is dragging you down, you can opt for temporary screen detox or try to selectively curate your feed to feel less lonely instead of making you feel the opposite.
Have you walked into a cafe and see a young teenage boy sipping a cup of coffee alone. What do you perceive about this situation? Do you think, “He looks so lonely” or “He seems to enjoy his solitude”?
The most important thing to note is that loneliness is a feeling inside of you, not what people perceive about you.
“A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings. Remember that next time you feel alone.”
When you feel lonely, realise that what you feel is temporary. Look at the caterpillar. During the time it is in isolation and loneliness, it is growing inside this chrysalis and turns into a butterfly with wings.
17 easy things to do when you’re feeling lonely. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience | The University of Chicago. (2020, March 30). Retrieved January 12, 2022, from https://psychiatry.uchicago.edu/news/17-easy-things-do-when-youre-feeling-lonely
Lal, K. (n.d.). Feel lonely even when surrounded by people? here’s why. Healthy Gamer. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from https://www.healthygamer.gg/blog/feel-lonely-even-when-surrounded-by-people
Scully, S. M. (2021, June 2). Do this one thing for loneliness. Psych Central. Retrieved January 12, 2022, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/blog-fight-loneliness-by-drawing-your-circle-of-influence