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Being lonely means feeling isolated and apart from the people around you. Even those with many “friends” are subject to loneliness if they feel the value of those connections is superficial.
Almost everybody will feel lonely from time to time. But we typically cycle in and out of the feeling as life throws us new curveballs we have to deal with.
However, some people have chronic loneliness. They feel alone, and don’t know how to stop the feelings. It seems impossible to shake the feeling of being lonely.
If you feel isolated and simply don’t know how to “not“ feel lonely, this article is for you. This entire article will give you six actionable strategies to deal with your lonely feelings.
1. Understand the Facts About Loneliness
We all feel lonely sometimes. Depending on which study you believe, somewhere between one in five Americans and a whopping 50% of American adults feel lonely. That is a lot of lonely people. If all the lonely people connected, no one would feel lonely ever again.
Creativity makes you feel better and helps you forget your loneliness. If you feel lonely, try drawing something. Write a poem. Write in a journal. Write a book or blog post. Build something. Work on a creative hobby. Or simply try some art therapy like adult coloring.
Tomorrow is another day. Remind yourself that life is full of ups and downs. Everyone has bad days when they feel isolated and lonely and everything seems to go wrong. Remember that tomorrow is a new day.
Be filled with optimism because you can always make the next day be one of the big “high” days rather than a soul-crushing low day.
Understand the common themes that are associated with excessive loneliness:
2. How to Not Feel Lonely at Work
Loneliness does not just impact the person—it impacts the entire work environment.
The impact of loneliness at the workplace is billions of dollars in lost work due to health issues. Billions more in lost productivity. And billions more from unhappy workers who are lost (and whose replacements need to be retrained).
So it behooves leadership to try to be more inclusive in their workplaces—not simply from a humanitarian “helping others” perspective, but from a sound economic perspective.
Happy and well-integrated workers do a better job and are more loyal to their companies.
This section is divided into two subsections:
- What YOU should do to not feel lonely at work
- What leadership and coworkers should do to create a more inclusive work environment
How to Stop Feeling Lonely at Work
1. Don’t assume people are not interested in you.
People who are lonely feel isolated and think that no one is interested in them or their lives. So they often push people away.
Don’t fall into this trap. Workplaces are sometimes subject to cliques, but that does not mean the cliques won’t be interested in letting you in if you show interest.
2. Talk about your work.
Many people feel it is not proper to talk about their work with family or friends, figuring that others would not understand or would not care.
Unfortunately, this just builds walls and creates isolation between you and the ones you love.
When you talk about your work with others (at work and at home), they appreciate the insight into what you do, and might actually have some really good insights for you (from viewing your work as an outsider with a different experience set).
3. Never eat alone.
Make yourself eat lunch with a colleague, or meet friends and family at a restaurant away from work. If you have problems with feeling lonely, it is important not to just grab your lunch at your desk and continue working. This leads to burnout.
4. Collaborate with others.
As the saying goes, “no man is an island.” You are not going to achieve any measurable success if you try to go it alone.
5. Compliment your co-workers.
People love compliments. It is human nature. I am not saying to be an “ass-kisser,” but find genuine reasons to give compliments to others.
Giving other people positive feedback about their work opens them up to you. They are more likely to form friendships with you and to return the favor of positive feedback when you achieve workplace successes.
6. Don’t ignore your personal life.
Studies show that people who live vibrant lives outside of work can better handle work that may naturally lead to a bit of isolation and loneliness. It is important to leave your work in these situations and enjoy your life outside of your job.
Never fall into the trap of ignoring your personal life today to achieve success or work toward an improved personal life in the future. The worse your job is, the more time and effort you need to spend on having a great personal life to compensate.
How Managers and Colleagues Can Help to Stop Loneliness at Work
It would be nice if leaders treated their employees well because they truly cared about their well being (I am sure some do).
But even if leaders do not truly give a hoot about their employees’ personal lives, it is important for employers to put a bit of energy into keeping their employees from being too lonely. It seems that loneliness has a huge impact on work performance.
People who are excessively lonely at work often become some of the worst employees.
Loneliness at work leads to:
It is far easier to give a little consideration to your employees’ loneliness and try to help them out of their feelings of isolation.
Identify lonely colleagues. First-line supervisors are best positioned to identify workers who suffer from loneliness. They can then act proactively to try to get them to connect with their co-workers.
Create a shared vision. Leaders higher up in the company can set company policy to create a shared vision for the business.
When workers buy in to the idea that they are an important part of the success of a company, they begin to connect with other employees and celebrate company achievements as if they were their own.
Celebrate team wins. Supervisors should celebrate workplace successes as a team “win” to foster camaraderie and esprit de corps
Monitor and evaluate company culture. Supervisors should periodically evaluate the company’s current state of social interaction by asking employees if they feel valued.
Vibrant social connections among employees should be an organization-wide strategic priority for any company.
Cultivate teamwork. Supervisors should encourage employees to work together and help each other. Work should not be a case of “stab the other guy in the back to win,” but a case of a “rising tide lifting all boats.”
Leaders should encourage their employees to seek help for loneliness when needed.
3. How to Not Feel Lonely at Home
Connect with a pet. A loving pet can help to relieve some of the feelings of loneliness. Our pets love us unconditionally. Having a dog or cat come sit with you when you are feeling blue is always a great “pick-me-up.”
Connect with a friend. Even better than a furry pet friend is a friend of the human persuasion. Think of someone you know who makes you laugh, or who has been supportive of you. Give them a call, send them an email, or schedule a lunch date. Friendships are built brick-by-brick.
People are not born with your friends—that will develop over time and shared experiences. Take the initiative to create a friendship where none exists, and to connect with your older friends when you feel lonely.
Get a good night’s sleep. Maybe you think that sleep will not make you feel more connected with others. And it won’t—at least not directly. But this study shows that as little as 15 minutes loss of sleep triggers a greater sense of loneliness.
If you increase that loss of sleep to a few hours, you start bringing serious possible long-term health problems into the mix, making the potential for isolation and depression even greater.
Sing. Sing loudly and often. Even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, sing out loud. It is impossible to feel lonely and depressed when you are belting out some of your favorite songs.
This happy feeling gets even better if you are singing some insipid ’80s song that is sure to make you crack a smile.
Visualize a “happy place.” This can be a warm beach at sunset, sipping a margarita; or a windswept mountain with a gorgeous view; or sitting in front of a warm fire with friends and family.
What you imagine does not matter as long as you can get a firm picture in your mind’s eye and feel a bit of happiness at the thought of being there.
Read fiction. This is one I am quite fond of. When I feel lonely or depressed, few things make me feel better than reading a good fiction book.
You become immersed in the fictional world of a good book, and invested in the characters. But as with social media, it is important not to forego real-life friends or events for the sake of reading a fictional book.
Make your bed. As Admiral McRaven pointed out in his excellent book, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World, such a simple activity is done every day sets a tone for your life that can reduce loneliness and possibly transform your life.
Try positive affirmations. When you say the same things over and over again, you can begin to convince your mind that they are true. That is the heart of the idea behind saying positive affirmations every day.
Check out the following links for more on affirmations and some specific examples that might be of interest to you:
- 1,132 Positive Affirmations: Your Daily List of Simple Mantras
- 25 Happiness Affirmations for Daily Positive Thinking
- 60 Affirmations to Experience a Positive Change in Your Life
4. The Best Way to Stop Loneliness: Get Out of the House
This is a big one. If all you ever do is go to work and then go home, it is easy to feel isolated because you are, in fact, isolating yourself.
Get out and go places. Just the act of showing up at new places will lead to new connections and greatly reduce loneliness.
Treat yourself to a “solo” date. You know you need to get out of your house, but may not know where to go. Go to places you would like to go on a date by yourself. Being alone should not hold you back from experiencing life.
The best part is that there is no compromising on where you want to go, what you want to eat, or what movie you want to see. You will always get your #1 choice.
Attend Meetups. This is another great way to get out of the home so you don’t feel lonely. Meetup.com or your local papers are great places to discover these events.
Participate in a sport and/or attend a gym. This is a great idea for two different reasons. First, it is another wonderful way to meet new people. Secondly, being physically fit actually makes you less prone to depression and feelings of isolation.
Attend after-school events. For those who attend school or college, school events are the perfect place to meet people and socialize.
You already likely have your age and the school you attend in common with the other people there, so you might quickly find a lot of people with similar interests if you put yourself out there.
Join a Toastmasters group. Some people have a tough time talking to others. I get it. I consider myself an introvert too.
A group like toastmasters is great because it not only helps you meet people but is a great way to build your confidence and make it easier to talk to others in public.
Accept invitations. This is key. If you are invited by someone to do something, accept. Even if you think you won’t enjoy the experience, why not give it a try?
When someone reaches out to you, they are trying to connect. If you turn them down, they might not ask again. Who knows—you could be passing up a future friendship that might keep you from feeling lonely.
5. Try Various Outdoor Activities
There are so many simple ideas to get you out of your house. Here are a few of the better ones:
6. Seek Professional Help to Not Feel Lonely
If you try many of these steps and still are as lonely and depressed as when you started, you may need some professional help.
Do not feel there is anything wrong with this. There is not.
Many people need a little therapy to help them realize the underlying psychological reasons for their loneliness, depression and anxiety. This is perfectly normal.
If you need help professional help, please take the steps to get it.
If you feel suicidal, please immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255
Other phone numbers to get help with your loneliness and depression immediately:
Websites to find help with loneliness and depression:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-NAMI (1-800-950-6264)
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America: 1-240-485-1001
- American Psychological Association: 1-800-374-2721
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: 1-800-826-3632
- National Institute of Mental Health
Links to related articles and research:
- Science of Loneliness
- Creative things to do when feeling lonely
- Religious less likely to feel isolated
- Lonely at work
- Sleep and loneliness
- Workforce: Lonely workers. Sad for people. Bad for business
- 30 ways to meet new people
- 25 Creative things to do when lonely
- 25 ways to chase away the blues
- Guide to depression resources
Final Thoughts on How to Not Feel Lonely
I hope you have a much better idea of how to not feel lonely after reading this post.
Loneliness and isolation are terrible. Few people who have not experienced it understand how bad it feels to be in a deep, dark depression. I hope this post has given you some good information on loneliness.
More importantly, I hope it has given you a bit of inspiration to take some action to become a bit happier and not so alone in your life.
You are not alone in feeling alone. If you feel overwhelmed and nothing else helps, please call some of the numbers above to get some professional help.
Also, why not reach out to others and share this post on your favorite social media platform. If everyone reached out to others with the steps in this post, maybe no one would ever be lonely again.
And if you're looking for more resources on how to not feel lonely, check out these blog posts:
- Feeling Alone: Why Does Loneliness Hurt So Bad? (and How to Deal With Feelings of Self-Isolation)
- How to Deal with Loneliness: A 10-Step Process
- No Friend Quotes For When You Feel Friendless and Alone
- 105 Loneliness Quotes for When You Feel Sad or Alone
- 50 Affirmations to Overcome Feelings of Loneliness
Finally, one proven way to improve your happiness and life satisfaction is to focus on goals that truly matter. To get started, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.