Loneliness Looks Different For Everyone
When we imagine a lonely person, we tend to think about a person who is isolated from other people for one reason or another. But of course it is possible to experience loneliness even when lots of other people are around.
Examples of this phenomenon abound. Maybe you didn’t fit in at school, so you felt lonely even in the crowded hallways or in the cafeteria—especially if other kids had a tendency to make fun of you. Or maybe you are an introvert and have trouble connecting with the people at work—especially the most extroverted of your peers. Maybe you find a whole range of social situations challenging—especially when you don’t know anyone.
So loneliness can be part of your life, no matter how many people you encounter on a day-to-day basis. (We should also note that you can, in fact, be alone and not feel lonely. The circumstances that lead to feelings of loneliness vary widely from individual to individual.)
The ongoing experience of loneliness can have a negative impact on your mental health, so it is important to have strategies for keeping that feeling at bay.
We have some suggestions.
Make Connections that Work for You
Our first suggestion might seem obvious. To avoid feeling lonely, you should make some real connections with other people.
The tricky part can be figuring out how to make those connections, especially if you tend to be more introverted than many of the folks around you. A good place to start, then, might be with your family or a friend with whom you already feel comfortable.
You might reach out to someone to ask if you could meet regularly for lunch or offer coffee—not for any particular reason other than to get together and chat. Having someone to talk with regularly, even if those conversations stay fairly light, can go a long way toward alleviating feelings of boredom.
Similarly, you may have a friend or family member who’d be up for something as simple as texting back and forth when the mood strikes you. It can even be fun to tune into the same show or sporting event and text your reactions to each other as things unfold.
You could go old school and chat with someone on the phone from time to time. Or you could go really old school and strike up a correspondence with someone via letters. Writing letters is a great way to express your feelings and share your enthusiasm with someone else, and it has the added benefit of sparking pleasant anticipation as you wait for a response. Just make sure both parties are committed to the project, so one of you doesn’t leave the other one hanging.
Let Your Interests Help You Find Interesting People
Perhaps you have a hobby you enjoy, a sport you like to play, a quirky interest in some aspect of pop culture, or a cause for which you would like to volunteer. The odds are excellent that you are not the only one who enjoys the things you enjoy. So taking a deeper dive into your interests is a great way to meet interesting people who share your enthusiasm.
Maybe the friendship never goes deeper than whatever activity brought you together. But that is perfectly okay. Knowing you can spend time with other folks who share your passions is a great antidote to loneliness.
A Word of Warning About Social Media
For many years now, social media has been redefining our idea of “friends.” We want to note that social media—no matter how many “friends” or “likes” or “shares” you rack up—is not necessarily a good way to deal with boredom.
While it is certainly true that social media can make it easier to keep up with folks in your life—especially those who are far away—it is also true that social media use has been connected with increased feelings of depression and anxiety. One of the reasons this is true is that everyone tends to put their best foot forward on social media, so it is easy to get the impression that everyone is happier or more successful than you are.
It is perfectly okay to have social media “friends.” Just make sure you spend less time with them, and more time having meaningful interactions with friends and family in the real world.
You Can Count On Us When You Need Help
At Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health, we are committed to providing exceptional mental health care grounded in evidence-based practices and personalized for each person we serve. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, a trauma-based disorder, or other mental health challenges, we are ready to help.