What To Do When You Feel Lonely

lonely woman looking out window

Did you know that the Surgeon General put out a report last year called,  “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation” that details the decline in social connection in America- the causes, the startling effects, and some solutions and strategies for advancing social connection. It’s an interesting and sobering read, realizing how many of the afflictions we face these days- physical, mental, and societal- can trace back to loneliness in one way or another. 

“People began to tell me they felt isolated, invisible, and insignificant. Even when they couldn’t put their finger on the word ‘lonely,’ time and time again, people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, from every corner of the country, would tell me, ‘I have to shoulder all of life’s burdens by myself,’ or ‘if I disappear tomorrow, no one will even notice.’”

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, 19th and 21st Surgeon General of the United States

The report goes into great detail about the detrimental effects on our personal health, as well as the health of our society and community when we forsake deep and meaningful connection in our lives. I encourage you to read that information, but in this blog I want to skip ahead to give you practical ideas to strengthen your relationships and build new ones, too!

3 Ways to Strengthen Relationships & Build New Ones

1) Make a Plan for Your Device Usage

“Technology can also distract us and occupy our mental bandwidth, make us feel worse about ourselves or our relationships, and diminish our ability to connect deeply with others.”

If you’re a person who spends more time on your phone than you’d like to- no judgment- a lot of us do. Now’s the time to make a plan! Think about how much time you’d like to spend on your devices, and start making small goals for yourself to start with. There are tools and apps to help you track and limit yourself, and asking a friend to help keep you accountable could be a relationship-building experience in itself! Use that extra time to meet up with a friend, text or call your loved ones, or even write a letter!

2) Join a Local Club, Group, or Church

It seems as we get older, it can be harder to make friends. One of the reasons might be that we get stuck in patterns where we’re going to the same places at the same times and aren’t necessarily meeting new people very often. If that’s the case for you, try mixing it up! Find a local gathering that seems interesting to you and go make some friends. There’s nothing to break the ice like a shared interest or hobby.

3) Take Some Time Alone

“It’s a counterintuitive idea. Solitude—a state that’s often confused with loneliness—can, in fact, be a powerful antidote to loneliness. When we know ourselves, we are better able to know others. When we feel at home in the here and now, we feel more at home in the world at large.”

Kim Samuel, Psychology Today

This tip comes from an article titled, “The Surprising Ways Solitude Is an Antidote to Loneliness.” As surprising as it is, it also makes a lot of sense when you think about the many benefits of unplugging from technology, taking time out from your routine, and being alone with your own thoughts. Scheduling some time alone might just give you the energy you need to take steps towards strengthening your relationships and improving your health and well-being.

Share Your Ideas Too!

We’d love to hear from you! Do you have any tips for building social connections in your life or community?

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