Feeling alone? Here are 15 tips to combat loneliness

May 21, 2021 - 14 min read

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What does feeling alone mean?

Tips to help when you’re feeling alone

Identifying depression when feeling alone

In 2020, AARP reported that 2/3 of all adults were feeling alone. The report also revealed that 66% of the population had increased anxiety.

If you’re asking online how to combat loneliness, you’re not alone. 

Let’s take a look at the concept of feeling alone and 15 tips and activities that will help you combat loneliness.

What does feeling alone mean?

Feeling alone, or loneliness is a state of solitude. 

Of course, not all people who are alone experience loneliness. Some are quite happy in their own company. So, loneliness can be defined as a perceived state of being lonely or alone. 

The-definition-of-loneliness

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Tips to help when you’re feeling alone

You can prevent feelings of loneliness from spiraling out of control by implementing a few tips. 

1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice. It means intentionally bringing your mind and senses to focus on being present in the moment. Often, we tend to dwell on the past or anticipate the future.

Practicing mindfulness will help you stay grounded in the present moment. You can remind yourself to become mindful as you go through your day. Studies have shown that mindfulness can improve your physical and mental well-being. It can also control your negative emotions. 

But how can you make sure you’re being mindful? Simply focus on breathing in and out. Gradually let your senses become aware of the sounds, scents, emotions, sights, and the world around you. 

2. Walk and spend time outdoors

Research has shown that walking and spending time outdoors for just 20 minutes a day can reduce social isolation and loneliness. There is growing evidence to suggest that spending time outdoors in nature has mental health benefits.

spending-time-outdoors-can-reduce-loneliness

This is because urban spaces are built to capture our attention, while natural environments allow us to simply be. They tend to be more restorative, like gardens, beaches, hilltops, and forests.

3. Get a pet

About 11 million households acquired a new pet during the 2020 lockdown in the US alone. And while that could be assumed as a response to feeling alone, there are many mental health benefits to having a pet. 

Interacting with animals reduces cortisol levels. 

Having pets can also reduce social isolation. It also improves moods, reduces blood pressure, and prevents feelings of loneliness. 

Studies show that people with pets experience an intense connection and companionship. 

4. Volunteer

Loneliness is often associated with a loss of meaning. While volunteering can make you feel useful and increase your self-worth. Just participating in volunteer work for two hours a week can lift your mood and leave you feeling more connected. 

This can be something like serving at a soup kitchen, reading stories at the pediatric ward, or doing temperature checks in public spaces. The opportunities are endless. 

5. Join a group with shared interests

Maybe you’re already part of a group meeting the same people every week. You could also be a complete novice who has never been part of a group. Joining a social group gives you a chance to meet new people if you’re feeling alone.

Some examples of this could be a martial arts school, a chess group, a book club, a toastmaster event, or even a K-pop dance-off if that’s your thing. 

Identify the things that you love to do and look for like-minded people that you can meet. This will help you create a social connection.

6. Connect with your religious community/faith group

Whatever your religious belief, you can feel less isolated by plugging into the social fabric of your religious community. Research has shown that religious attendance is associated with higher social integration and better social support.

The implication is clear. Involvement with your religious institution and/or local community can protect you from feeling lonely.

religious-attendance-leads-to-better-support

7. Practice a craft

One of the ways you can beat feeling alone is by embracing your hobbies. It could be something you’ve always known how to do or it could be something completely new. 

Consider any number of crafting hobbies: 

  • Knitting
  • Pottery
  • Baking
  • Quilting
  • Sewing
  • Painting
  • DIY projects
  • interior decorating
  • Woodworking
  • Photography
  • Calligraphy
  • Decoupage
  • Scrapbooking
  • Gardening
  • Playing an instrument

There are a lot more, but you get the idea.

8. Set goals

Setting goals can help you feel purposeful. It will give you a destination. Life won’t seem like something you have to just get through, but something you can look forward to. It may even make you want to jump out of your bed every morning. 

If you can’t seem to identify and set some goals, we can help. A coach can help you set short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals

9. Travel (if you can)

Travel doesn’t need to be exotic or expensive. You can simply visit places in your state. 

As you travel, you will meet people, make new friends, have interesting or not-so-interesting conversations, all the while learning something new and doing something you’ve never done before. 

It can make you feel more connected with the world. 

10. Write handwritten letters/notes

Writing therapy (or expressive disclosure) has proven to be extremely cathartic for many people. 

When you’re feeling alone, you can write to others, including family, friends, and people you’re just grateful to have in your life. Actually writing someone a handwritten letter or note is not the same as using social media. 

Picking up a pen, organizing your thoughts, painting a picture, gluing an envelope shut, and stamping it are very sensory activities. It weaves you into the process and ties you to the person you are writing to.

11. Practice self-care

There is a growing movement of people who practice self-care. Self-care is taking intentional care of oneself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Fixing a bubble bath, taking an afternoon nap when needed, unplugging from social media for an hour just to relax, a long drive, or ordering take-out are all quality examples of self-care. 

Just do the things that make you happy and relaxed. Often, our loneliness stems from frustration and stress. We’re constantly being pulled in different directions. Self-care means saving time for oneself. 

Paul-Gasol’s-5-tips-for-self-care

Check out Paul Gasol’s tips on prioritizing mental health and self-care.

12. Build relationships

It might be hard, but it’s important to build lasting relationships. 

This could be with family, friends, loved ones, colleagues, neighbors, and even acquaintances. Take the time to know people’s names and their stories. Forgive quickly and stay connected. 

Poet Maya Angelou once said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Getting to know people helps us realize that we are all in the same boat, being tossed by the waves of life. A brief social interaction can enrich our lives and the lives of the people we meet.

13. Alternative therapies

If you’re feeling lonely, have social anxiety, or feel isolated, try alternative therapies like art therapy, music therapy, talk therapy, dance therapy, or light therapy. 

They all have positive effects on the mind and increase endorphins. 

14. Gratitude lists

Stephanie Cacioppo, director of the Brain Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine said, “Loneliness, is the discrepancy between what you want from your relationships and what you have.”

Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, make a gratitude list for all the things that you do possess. Numerous studies show how gratitude can positively affect your brain and make you happier. 

gratitude-lists-can-make-you-happier

(Image source)

15. Get help

If you still feel like you’re drowning in loneliness, maybe you should consider getting help. 

Talk to a counselor or speak to a doctor. 

They can identify any other underlying medical conditions. A counselor or clinical psychologist is also a good sounding board for voicing out what you’re feeling.

Identifying depression when feeling alone

It is also important, however, to identify when you’re depressed. If you’re feeling, sad, have mood swings, cry often, have gained or lost weight, wake up early, have trouble sleeping, low self-esteem, are extremely anxious, restless, have thoughts of suicide or negative thoughts, then please see a doctor. 

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

You are not alone. The tips above are a guide that can help you if you’re feeling lonely. However, what works for one person might not work for another, so you have to determine what’s going to make you happy.

Find out what works for you. Maybe it’s cycling or an experience that we didn’t include on this list. 

And if you still find yourself struggling, BetterUp has a coaching program that is tailored to your needs. 

Published May 21, 2021

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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