Too often, people shrug away loneliness as if it’s merely an annoyance. In reality, loneliness is much more than that. It’s not just about being alone. After all, it’s possible to feel lonely in the middle of a crowd. However, recognizing the power of loneliness doesn’t mean that you can’t beat it. In fact, understanding how to overcome loneliness is a useful life skill. It can help you shake off these feelings of isolation when they strike so that you can find a more positive headspace.
How to Overcome Loneliness
Ironically, loneliness is something of a shared experience. According to MedicalNewsToday, a recent survey of adults ages 45 and over found that roughly one-third of respondents identified as lonely. Unfortunately, being lonely can also put your physical and mental health at risk. Studies suggest that too much of this hurtful emotion can harm sleep quality, negatively impact the immune system, and increase the risk of heart disease. Thankfully, there are a variety of concrete strategies that people of all ages can take to overcome loneliness.
Make a Point to Practice Self-Kindness
When you’re feeling down, blaming yourself isn’t helpful. When your inner voice is hurtful, make it a point to change the tone of the conversation. Choose to be kinder in how you think about yourself and your actions.
Pay Attention to What Matters
It’s hard to overcome a hardship when you don’t understand what causes it. Pay attention to your emotions. When you realize that you’re feeling lonely, think about why. Try to identify what makes you feel lonely. On the flip side, think about the things that make you feel like you belong. While it might take some effort to tease out that information, once you have it, you can limit your engagement with activities that amp up your loneliness and schedule more activities that help you to overcome the hurtful feeling.
Capitalize on Joys
When something happens that makes you happy, share it. It doesn’t have to be big. Is your day off to a great start thanks to a refreshing night’s sleep? Did you find yourself laughing out loud at the antics of two squirrels playing cheerfully in the yard? Call or text a friend, and mention it. Sharing positive feelings even briefly can encourage connection and banish isolation.
Tend to Your Social Network
Life is hectic, and it’s easy to lose touch with friends. Tending to your social network can reap huge benefits. Aim to spend an hour or so a week reaching out. Make phone calls, send emails, or connect via skype. Schedule lunch dates or outings. Nourish connections with current friends, reconnect with old friends, or give connections with acquaintances the chance to bloom into something richer.
Connect via Social Media
Social media offers another way to stay connected and share the things that bring you pleasure. Remember that people use social media differently. Some people have accounts because they genuinely enjoy interacting with others. Some have accounts because they want to show off what they’re doing. Others have accounts because they want to follow along, but they may not have the time or interest needed to post themselves.
Volunteering can be a rewarding way to connect with other people. It’s also a chance to use your skills to contribute something positive. Whether you do it in person or online, volunteering belongs on any list of tips for how to overcome loneliness.
Join a Group
Consider joining a group of people who share something that you’re interested in. Take a class. Go to a gym. Participate in a book club. Attend a lecture. Enroll your pet in obedience classes. There are countless opportunities to explore an interest and meet other people who share it.
Loneliness is a threat to your mental and physical health. Learning how to overcome it is empowering. Plus, having the knowledge ensures that you’ll be ready to fight back whenever the threat of feeling lonely rears its head again.
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