Since the start of the pandemic I have noticed how difficult the feeling of loneliness is from time to time. This was the first time I worked from home and went for weeks without seeing my friends and family in person. It was and is a strange feeling, even for an introvert like myself. When the feeling of loneliness rushes over me I remember it is a signal from my body to take action.
If you can, try not to sit in this feeling for too long because it can lead to a deeper feeling of loneliness and depression.
Here are 12 tips to try to help alleviate the feeling of loneliness and hopefully feel better as a result.
1. Don’t blame yourself
Blaming yourself for your current situation only makes you feel worse! This can lead to guilt and shame. You may start to go down a rabbit hole of picking apart these little things that normally you never did. Remember, this is a situation, which means it is not permanent. You won’t continue to feel lonely forever.
Remind yourself: we’re in a freaking pandemic. Everyone is lonely right now.
2. Find solace and connection from an activity or a friend
This can be anything you enjoy. I can’t tell you the number of times I have turned on “The Office” just because I am so connected to the characters. I instantly feel like I’m watching my friends and dysfunctional family members by engaging in that show. You can also find connection in your loving pets, or activities that you feel a great connection to.
My cello teacher in college used to express her deep life-time connection with her “oldest friend” that just happened to be her cello who was always there for her in times of need. It also helps to pick up that phone! Reaching out just to say “hi” might just be the connection that makes the other person’s day.
3. Connection with another person
Again, think about those people in your life whom you love and haven’t reached out to in a long time. Send them a text, an email, a photo, call them on the phone, or FaceTime. Chances are this will brighten their day as well to hear from you.
Jesse Itzler, entrepreneur and author, often talks about his practice of making this a daily ritual. He suggests connecting with 5 people every day in whatever form feels comfortable. You may find after doing this for several days or weeks that you run out of time to keep up with all of your connections.
Sending a card to someone means that they will remember you. Especially if they are going through a hard time. They will say “that meant a lot”. And reaching out to them, is like spreading your love and healing energy. Maybe it’s something just something on Facebook, like a thumbs up.
4. Explore your creative side
This does not need to be something impressive, or anything you would share. This is just the act of exploring creativity in any form. Sometimes when we are the most vulnerable is also when we may be the most creative. My husband always shares that you have to go into writing music with a heavy feeling. You will write better music as a result.
Charles Bukowski writes about being lonely:
“Isolation is a gift. Everything else is just a test of your endurance. You will be alone with the Gods. Your nights will flame with fire.”
A lot of the great work in history was done when people were alone.
Bukowski also writes: “They simply never understand, do they, that sometimes solitude is one of the most beautiful things on earth?”
5. Help someone
One of the best cures for loneliness is helping others. This again doesn’t need to be something big. You could unexpectedly rake someone’s leaves, volunteer at a shelter. You could also volunteer at an old folk’s home, or pick up the phone and call Hospice and ask how you can help. Acts of service give ourselves feelings of connection, love, and reward. We feel good about ourselves and want to help more and quickly forget about a lonely feeling.
Sometimes we would go out and buy a lunch and give it to a person who is homeless. This is different than handing out cash that some of them might spend on alcohol or drugs. This is buying them their favorite sandwich. And if you don’t know what that is, buy your favorite and give it to them.
Oh, to see their faces light up! I just feel like people don’t do this very much.
You may find how powerful this shared experience can be. Sometimes acknowledging the difficulty can help alleviate some of the pain. You might find common connection which can blossom into a deeper meaning around the situation.
And to see someone who is going through a harder time than yourself adds perspective.
Anytime I have tried this suggestion I have always found how humbling, real, and vulnerable I felt prior to the action of helping someone. Afterward I felt lighter and more hopeful after sharing with another person who understood this feeling.
6. Feel happy for others
We may experience some jealousy when imagining others having fun doing activities we desire to do ourselves. Instead of thinking thoughts of anger and disappointment- try feeling happy for them.
When you have flip your feeling toward gratitude for others you tap into a part of yourself that is open to the possibility of yourself doing that activity. This can take away your feeling of loneliness and transform it into excitement.
7. Notice your feeling of loneliness instead of resisting it
When you view the feeling of loneliness like a visitor passing through the town. It gives you more power to not be enveloped by it. For example, Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh teaches people to “take care of their anger” and other painful emotions. These emotions are teachers helping direct us to something we need to learn or explore.
8. Think of your feelings like a continuous wave
There will be days you will feel joyous and connected to people in all areas of your life. You will also have days where you feel so lonely you may think it will never go away. You know this isn’t true. When we remember how many times we have had ups and downs in our lives we can find peace in the impermanence of the feeling of loneliness.
“This too shall pass.”
This is a suggestion I read and want to try the next time I feel lonely. I absolutely love to sing. Experiment with singing along with one of your favorite songs! Something about voices mixing together in harmony can create connection.
10. Go for a walk!
Just breathing the fresh air and moving can do wonders. Some people go for walks 6-12 miles a day which keeps them happy and smiling even in the most lonely of times.
11. Read a book
Connecting with someone who lived a long time ago can help you empathize with another person’s life. And often the people you read about were going through situations just like you. Put on a cup of tea, and grab a stack of your favorite books. There is nothing more fun than this! You’re hearing the thoughts of the greatest people who ever lived.
12. Join a club.
This can be a book club, yoga, chess, and yes – church! There are lots of clubs and get-togethers posted down at the library. And they’re always looking for someone to join them. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable can go a long way. Taking one risk a day by doing something like joining a club can take away those feelings of loneliness immediately.
Or what about piano lessons? The local music store will have a list of piano teachers you can go to.
And make life an adventure! You can do it.
13. Get a pet.
Now here is someone who is lonely and needs you. It’s the little things we can do to get out of our head and help those around us. This seems to really do the trick.