Despite current technology, such as social media, making connecting to other easier than before, people seem to be lonelier than ever.
While being lonely isn’t inherently bad, too much of it can lead to physical and mental health problems, such as aggravated anxiety, depression, and an increased risk of heart disease.
To prevent loneliness from affecting us in our everyday lives, here are six ways to cope with these feelings in a healthy way:
1. Unplug From Social Media
If you’re feeling lonely, the first thing you should do is to get off of social media. Scrolling through your feed can cause you to compare your life to what you see on screen, even if what you’re seeing is carefully curated and not an accurate representation of your friends’ lives.
Monitoring your social media use is significant for maintaining your mental health, since constantly seeing your friends have fun without you can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and do a number on your self-esteem.
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) even conducted a survey that found Instagram to be the worst for mental health, including for loneliness, so keep this in mind the next time you’re left feeling worse after spending time on social media.
2. Strengthen Your Friendships
While some friendships can still be the same after prolonged periods of no contact, most still require cultivation.
That means, reaching out every once and a while to see how people are doing and making the effort to strengthen those relationships is really important, even in the hustle and bustle of adult life.
Feelings of loneliness often occur when someone feels that they have no one they can turn to.
But, by contacting old friends and reigniting these friendships, you can offset your loneliness, and remind yourself that there are plenty of people out there who still like and care about you—you just haven’t spoken to them in a while.
3. Join New Activities
If your existing friendships aren’t enough, there’s always the option to make more! One way to kickstart new friendships is to seek them out through shared activities.
Sites like Meetup or Facebook groups centered around a particular activity or hobby are great places to join new activities and start making connections.
Participating in these activities is an easier way to make new friends because you’ll share a common interest with any new contacts you make.
And once you’ve consistently joined in on the activities held by the group, the camaraderie you’ve formed after becoming more familiar with the other members will be a strong foundation for friendship.
4. Invest in Yourself
When you’re lonely, you may start suffering from feelings of inadequacy because you feel that you don’t have people to talk to or hang out with.
One way to combat this feeling is to invest in yourself and in what makes you happy.
Investing in yourself can take a number of different forms. It may mean pampering yourself by splurging on a spa day or buying yourself something you’ve always wanted.
Or, it could mean taking the leap and making moves to build up your career or skills. By showing yourself that you’re worth it, you’ll be able to slowly build your self-esteem back to where it should be.
5. Be Comfortable with Your Own Company
This is the step that’s easier said than done. Many of us grow up constantly surrounded by family, friends, or partners who validate us and make us feel loved and cared for.
However, by the time people reach adulthood, due to pressures like holding down a full-time job, there are more circumstances where they may find themselves to be completely alone.
For some, this can be a difficult adjustment. And so, to be able to fight off feelings of loneliness, you need to be able to feel comfortable just having yourself for company.
Take time to appreciate the peace and quiet, and revel in the ability to do things you’ve always wanted to do without having to worry about entertaining others. And most of all, remind yourself that being alone is perfectly okay.
6. Get Professional Help
Even with all this, it’s possible that your loneliness won’t be completely dispelled. If you’re having trouble managing your loneliness, know that it’s completely acceptable to seek professional help, especially if your loneliness is starting to manifest into depression or deep-seated anxiety.
During times like these, talking to a therapist or counselor will help you find ways to handle your symptoms in a healthy way.
They’re trained to listen to you without judgment and provide you a safe space to talk about what you’re dealing with, so take advantage of this service if you need it. Despite the stigma, you’ll feel better for it afterwards.
Remember, You’re Not Truly Alone
When you’re lonely, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only person in your social circle dealing with it. However, that’s rarely the truth.
By opening up to others and building on your friendships, you’ll find that people are often more open to connecting than you think. And once you find healthy ways to cope with loneliness, you’ll be better able to manage your feelings and be happy, even when you don’t constantly have people around you.