How to Deal with Loneliness and Need for Social Connection

The world is turning into a global village. It was perhaps a decade ago when we started talking about it and today finally, in the year 2019, it has become absolutely true. Thanks to the advancements of technology, we are always connected with our loved ones. It doesn’t matter if your best friend decides to go to a university in another country for higher education because you would still be able to “Whatsapp” him anytime you want. There is no reason to be upset about your husband’s posting to a different city since you can always “Facetime” him. But here’s a question, if being in contact is more convenient than ever before, why is it that every other person you’d find complaints of loneliness these days?

As per psychology, loneliness is an experience that is not just confined to people who lose their partner, the introverts who don’t have a lot of friends or the ones who have moved to a new city and are living alone. It’s scary that it is possible for you to feel lonely even when you are right in the middle of people. Simply put, loneliness doesn’t stem from being alone, but it is a byproduct of failing to feel a connection with people around you.

Loneliness can be episodic or chronic in nature and it is the latter that has won it a place among the “Public Health epidemics”. It has been shown with research that loneliness can make changes to how the immune system of individual work. With less than optimal functioning of such an indispensable system of the human body, there is a higher risk of early death.

Now that you know the gravity of the situation, you can understand why it is important to deal with loneliness timely and effectively. If you or someone that you know is currently experiencing loneliness, the following strategies can be effective in pulling them out of their misery.

  1. Make A Voluntary Effort To Socialize

A person who is having an episode of loneliness is very likely to avoid social contact. It’s like a vicious cycle. You feel lonely, and yet you would do everything in your power to not be in contact with someone. This is why we have used the word “Voluntary” here. We understand that you don’t feel like socializing even with your favorite people. But in order to prevent fueling this vicious cycle, you need to make a deliberate effort into socializing against your will. It is understandable for you to think that this can increase the likelihood of anxiety and frustration. But you’d be amazed to see how effective it can be in letting your cope with loneliness.

An easier way to push yourself for social connection is to plan an activity that you can do with someone. For instance, you can ask one of your colleagues to join you for working out at the gym. Or perhaps you can go to the kitchen and help your mom cook your favorite food. Another fine strategy is to go to a community center or a library. Anywhere that you know you are going to be surrounded with people and the likelihood of socializing is great can be an effective first step to treating your loneliness.

  1. Revitalize Your Connection

As mentioned earlier, it is possible to feel lonely while you are with people. If this is something happening to you in your romantic relationship, you are in a dire need of one-on-one time with your partner. Make a thorough analysis of your marriage. Do you think that everything else about your relationship is impeccable except for the fact that you can’t seem to get rid of the restlessness because a voice in your head is telling you that something is missing? If that is the case then you are facing an issue of loneliness in your marriage, friendship, or whatever relationship it is. Under such circumstances, the easiest thing that you can do is revitalize your connection with your special someone. Living with them and having the day to day conversations is no longer working for you. It is time to sit with them and “Talk”. Make time, perhaps just an hour, to sit and have a meaningful conversation with them. Plan a date, take them out for a romantic dinner, go for a picnic, take a holiday together. Do whatever it takes to narrow that silently growing distance between you two.

  1. Focus On Yourself

Remember that having an action plan to remedy loneliness doesn’t imply that you need to be surrounded by people at all times. An important component of it is to be able to be alone without feeling lonely. It is imperative that you learn to have a good time with yourself. For this purpose, it is recommended to choose a few activities that you can do alone, things that you are much likely to love doing or which can benefit you otherwise. For instance, meditation and mindfulness can work like a charm for people who are fighting a battle against loneliness. Meditation is like an exercise for your mind that ensures its optimum functioning and strengthens its capacity. Meditation and mindfulness have been associated with the feelings of calmness, peace, reduced stress and anxiety, sharper focus, improved memory, and a sense of overall wellbeing. A few minutes of meditation every day can be highly effective as a remedy for all negative emotions which may be percolating in your mind including loneliness.

  1. Choose Your People

Another important tip to keep in mind on your journey to curing loneliness is that being surrounded by people all the time and spending your days small talking about the minute events which happened last night in the neighborhood is not going to help. If anything, it can actually worsen your situation since you are among the people but fail to associate meaning to the conversations that you are having with them. This is why it is recommended to start with choosing your people. People that you are close with, with whom you feel an emotional connection. It doesn’t have to be tens of them. Make it three or four people that you are comfortable with. In fact, the lesser the better, at least in the beginning. Never forget that you are not in search of company, rather, you’re in search of connection. So sticking to a few people and sharing meaningful experiences with them is the way to go. For instance, if you live with your siblings, you can make it a habit for everyone to have their dinner together. This could be the time when all of you connect with each other and share stories of the day.

  1. Volunteer Work Opens New Horizons

In the interest of meaningful social interactions, there is hardly anything that parallels volunteer work. Volunteering takes you closer to people that you are likely to connect with since they have something in common with you. On one hand, you’d volunteer for a good cause that will help to improve your self-esteem and make you feel good about yourself, and on the other hand, you will get an opportunity to connect with people with whom you can relate. In order to keep the same company and ensure that you will continue this activity, it is always a better idea to join a cause that calls for a weekly or monthly meeting. Honestly, you have to try it to believe it. Volunteer for a cause and you’d be able to see it for the amazing platform that it is when it comes to making friendships. Even if you don’t know all of them, there is a value that you share with each one of them, and that is powerful enough to address loneliness.

  1. The Correct Use Of Social Media

Here’s the dilemma. Research says that people who are excessively addicted to social media are more likely to lose the connection and fall in the ditch of loneliness. On the other hand, it is a common observation that people who are not in a war with loneliness happen to be more social on social media platforms. What is the answer then? Should you opt for social media or are you better off without it? The answer actually lies in how you make use of social media. What’s unfortunate is that the so-called social media that was originally meant for people to socialize and be connected, is now turning into a platform that people use to see meaningful memes, meaningless cat videos, meaningless pranks, and what now. A meaningless experience one after the other. The reason why social media pushes some people to loneliness while pulls some people out of it is that the latter group chooses to use social media to actually connect with their friends. It’s not just a screen for them to scroll through.

  1. Take Help From The Professionals

Depending on the severity of the situation and whether or not you are being able to cope with loneliness all by yourself, it can turn out to be a fine idea to consider therapy. Seeking help from the professionals is precise and efficient as far as the remedy is concerned. For instance, with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), you can experience a drastic change in your overall thought process; the process that was disturbed to an extent that it was fueling the feelings of loneliness. Once you opt for a professional, it gives you peace of mind that your mental health is now in good hands. Your therapist would know everything that can help with your particular scenario. He’d change your habits, your behaviors, your lifestyle patterns which may have been stimulating loneliness without you ever realizing it. Such a combination of strategies as part of your therapy will be highly effective in lending you a hand to cope with loneliness and not let it affect your personal or professional life.

  1. As Always, “Speak”

Last but not least, as is the case with the majority of mental health issues, there is nothing wrong in talking about it. Of course, we wouldn’t recommend talking to random people and letting them know about your issues. But as mentioned earlier, you can choose your people with whom you share your experience of loneliness. More often than not, the help our loved ones can lend us goes a long way in fixing loneliness. Considering that there are so many people in this time and age who are fighting a battle against loneliness, chances are that sharing your experience with them will actually create an opportunity for you to connect with them. If they have had a similar experience or even just an episode, they’d be able to relate to your problem and help you in normalizing your feelings again.

Conclusion

Loneliness can make you feel empty. It has a way of presenting everything as meaningless for you. Its effect is strong enough to disturb your personal and professional life. What’s even more challenging is that the symptoms of loneliness are mostly concealed for others to see without deliberate probing or insight. Therefore, unless you talk about it and plan to do something about it by yourself, it is likely that no one will step ahead and hold your hand. Consequently, the imagination of your mind that nobody cares for you enough to notice is further affirmed. This is why it is important to recognize by yourself when you are having an episode of loneliness and address it in a timely fashion so that it won’t become chronic. The above mentioned are scientifically proven, easy to follow strategies which can be used to remedy loneliness. All you have to do is be consistent and stay motivated, and eventually, you’d be the only in charge of your mind soon enough. Remember, you are amazing, you deserve happiness, you deserve friends, and you deserve love. Don’t let your loneliness tell you otherwise.