We all experience moments of loneliness throughout our lives, whether it be after a loved one has passed or if it’s a struggle to catch up with friends and family. But sometimes loneliness can stem from psychological conditions such as social anxiety and depression.
“Loneliness doesn’t only affect people who don’t have others in their life,” says psychologist Angus Munro. “You can be in a stable relationship and interact with lots of people you know and still feel lonely.”Here are some practical ways to combat the cloud…
Get comfortable with solitude.
The most important tool is to feel more comfortable alone. “Often when loneliness is acute, we’re craving validation from others because we can’t give it to ourselves,” says Angus.”Our own self-criticism may mean our only emotional security is from others. Be more self-compassionate. Treat yourself like someone you deeply care about.”
Use social media more effectively.
Have a look at your social media contacts and ask yourself what percentage of those you’ve had a one-on-one conversation with, either in person or on the phone, in the past year.
“You might find it a shockingly low percentage,” says Angus. “Optimize this. Start small. Contact people you like but haven’t spoken to for a while. Say you’re checking in and ask them a question or two to keep the interaction going. “If you get a positive response, reply saying it’d be great to catch up and ask how they’re placed in the near future.”
Sharpen your social skills.
Feeling a bit rusty about connecting? “Assume the person you’re talking to likes you,” says Angus. “You might be surprised how this simple idea can boost your confidence. Also, ask questions to reduce your nervousness. Look for little details in what they say to see what you’re interested in knowing.” Everyone knows something interesting that you don’t, so draw it out of them — they’ll enjoy it, too!
Get involved with your community.
If your loneliness is caused by the lack of a social circle, have a look at community activity websites like meetup.com or even Facebook groups. “Wherever you live, you’ll find a group of people who share your interests,” Angus insists. “This can be a low-pressure way to explore connecting with others. Whether you like stamp collecting or naked yoga, you’ll find a group that fits you!”
Organize an extra interaction one a week.
Starting a new habit is hard, but once you get the ball rolling, it will soon become second nature. “Start small,” Angus advises. “Share lunch with a co-worker or drop in to see a family member. Once you have been picking ‘long-hanging fruit’ for a while, expand your horizons. This can help you develop confidence so your loneliness slowly shifts over time.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.