How do I stop feeling lonely? That’s probably the most important question you have if you struggle with loneliness. Although there is no simple one-size-fits-all step-by-step plan to get rid of your loneliness, there are things you can do to establish social contacts – and thus at least increase the chance of lasting, meaningful connections.
The Lonely Corner is here to help. Here are 5 few practical tips to battle loneliness:
Find out who you already know and make a list of them. Family members, friends, vague acquaintances, colleagues. Include what you appreciate about that person and why you enjoy interacting with them. This way you gain insight into your social network (however limited that may be).
Select one or two people from your list with whom you would like to meet up and contact them. Even if it has been a long time since you spoke to them. Simply asking how they are doing can be enough and the start of renewed contact. Or propose to meet. (It’s scary, I know, but hey, what have you got to lose?)
Check whether there are online communities where you can meet new people or websites that organize activities or meetups. In The Netherlands there is a website called Nieuwe Mensen Leren Kennen, which literally translates as “meeting new people”. The more internationally oriented website MeetUp is another example. These are great places to meet other people who are looking for new connections, just like you.
Think about things you enjoy doing. Your hobbies, things you are interested in. Chances are there’s a club or community for people who like those things too. Join them. That way you can get to meet people with similar interests.
Did you succeed in catching up with someone you already knew or get acquainted with someone new and did you have a nice time? Make a proposal to see each other again. That way you start to build a (hopefully) lasting connection.
Keep a few things in mind:
• Try to be positive. Don’t expect a negative outcome. As Devora Zack points out, “Every interaction is an opportunity.” It might actually work.
• If you have agreed to seeing somebody or going to a meetup, and at the last moment you start to have doubts or you don’t feel like going after all: make yourself go. Force yourself. You will experience that afterwards it feels very satisfying that you went anyway.
• Don’t dismiss people too quickly. You don’t have to be 100% the same to have a connection. In other words: don’t set the standard that the connections you desire must meet (too) high.
• Don’t expect too much at once. Take a first step instead of expecting depth from the start. Just try to have a nice time. Connecting takes time, don’t give up too soon.
It may not be easy, but one thing you know for sure: If you stay alone at home and do nothing, nothing will change. And remember: many people struggle with this. You are not alone!
Adopting a pet Some articles and blogs about loneliness suggest you might want to adopt a pet. For sure a pet can help ease feeling lonely. You can enjoy their company, take care of them, walk them (if it’s a dog). But before you adopt a pet, please consider carefully if you are willing and able to take care of them for a longer period of time and if you can afford them.