Being connected with others and having meaningful relationships is thought of as one of the most fundamental human needs. In the past, this social need for belonging has been crucial for our survival as well as our well-being in a group. Therefore, we naturally have a strong need to belong. If we struggle to find the right connections and experience loneliness or “being left outside”, we might feel even physically hurt. However, these feelings are not uncommon in our modern society where each of us can feel lonely at times.
Questions to ask yourself when feeling lonely:
- Does spending time alone always feel lonely to me or do I sometimes enjoy being alone?
- Does doing things alone make me feel “wrong” because of some societal expectations?
- Where do I think my feeling of loneliness is coming from?
Maybe you have recently lost someone close to you, moved away from home, outgrown people around you, or just feel like you haven’t found “the right people” yet. There can be multiple different reasons for feeling lonely and none of which is more wrong or right.
Although there isn’t one instant solution for dealing with loneliness, some of these ways might be helpful in feeling less lonely and more connected
1. Practise more self-care or explore the things you personally enjoy more. Doing things that you enjoy is always a good way to get to know yourself a little better and to feel more connected with yourself. Knowing yourself better can also help when getting to know new people
2. Join a new activity such as a new hobby, a temp job, a volunteer work, a class, or a student association. These are just a few examples of the ways you can surround yourself with new people or find new interests for yourself
3. Try connecting with new people through different social apps. Sometimes starting a conversation first online might feel easier than immediately meeting new people in person
4. Know when to engage and disengage from social media
5. Talk about your feeling of loneliness with others or process it with a professional such as a therapist. Being independent can sometimes be good, but reaching out to others might offer the real support you need
6. Strengthen old relationships
7. Plan out regular online calls or meetings to stay in touch, for instance in the zoom or in facetime. This can help especially if you’re living away from your friends or family
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” – Martin Luther king
When feeling lonely you should keep in mind that you are not alone in feeling that way. Feeling lonely is a common experience. There can be many different reasons why one might experience themselves more isolated or lonelier than before. Even if you are feeling lonely or isolated in the present, you are not losing your ability to connect with people in the future. The feeling of loneliness is temporary and changeable.