Loneliness stinks. We all go through it, some more than others. There are times where we are truly alone physically — spending so much time in our world without much human interaction. Then, there is the type of loneliness you can feel when surrounded by people. This one is probably our least favorite. People are right there, but you just can’t seem to connect with them in a way to benefit from their presence. This can open a whole new can of worms of other emotions – confusion (why can’t I connect with anyone?), self-doubt (is there something wrong with me?), anxiety (what if I feel this way forever?), and guilt (everyone else seems to be enjoying themselves, why can’t I?).
The weirdest part about loneliness is the simple fact that we all go through it. So technically, you’re never going through it alone even if it feels that way. I suppose that can sound like a depressing fact, but it just goes to show you that loneliness is a normal and unpleasant human experience that is temporary. To cope with these feelings, we’ve come up with 10 awesome ways to sit through the storm of sadness as it passes by.
#1 Make a list of 5 things you are grateful for.
This task might seem overwhelming at first. There are obvious ones – your pet. Your favorite movie. Your bed. The cheese fries from that one really good place to eat in town. But can you name more than five if you think outside of the box? Electricity. Clean water. The soap that makes you feel squeaky clean. How about your ability to see and read this sentence? Your brain for saying “I’m lonely. Let me do some research.” Your brilliance to google, “How can I stop being lonely?” You are doing great without even realizing it.
#2 Get lost in an interesting story about something YOU care about.
This could be about anything that you strongly connect with. Let me break it down and tell you a story.
One night, I was feeling particularly low. My dog was snoring and it was late, so I had no one to talk to. I had put on one of those Netflix documentaries about “weird people and the world” and was scrolling mindlessly on social media, feeling worse every time I saw somebody else having a better time than me. I looked up because I saw something that piqued my interest on the screen. I learned that a man had implanted an antenna in his head that affected his ability to hear and see for cosmetic purposes.
I was like, “What?!” and listened to his name so I could look more into it. Two hours later, I learned about human cyborgs, cyborg rights, the cyborg foundation, laws and medical implications, the cyborg movement, and so much more. I was a health major in college, so I really wanted to know all about these people.
Was that a pointless topic? Sure. But I spent two hours not focusing on my loneliness. I was focusing on cyborgs and finding myself excited to tell my coworker about them the following day. They are some of the most interesting people I’ve ever learned about!
#3 Have a movie marathon.
Plan it out and make it special, because you’re special. What are you into right now? Horror? Comedy? Who is your favorite actor? Have you seen all of their movies? What about the director of those movies? Your movie title list could go on and on. Sometimes when I am really bored, I’ll play Movie Night Bingo by myself.
#4 Do some exercise that you enjoy.
Exercise you enjoy sounds like a paradox, but I guarantee you can find something. If it’s a nice day, a 20-minute walk can really change your perspective. Feel the ground beneath your feet and listen as closely as you can to the sounds. You’d be surprised just how not-alone you really are! I like to listen to bird’s sing.
Another option is group exercise classes. They have groups for so many levels of different activities now, you really can’t go wrong! I recommend finding a Restorative Yoga class. It’s basically an exercise class you can nap in. On the other side of that spectrum, Zumba is great for dancing and getting out any excess energy. Plus, watching Martha bust a move like her life depends on it may bring a smile to your face.
#5 Start a new hobby or learn something new.
What is something you’ve always wanted to learn more about, but never felt like you had the time or energy? Now is the time! You’ve got nothing to lose. Here’s a great example of why starting a new hobby when you’re lonely is awesome.
One winter, I was dealing with a lot of depression from the inescapable gloominess of every monotonous day. I was certain that if I had to sit through one more weekend of Hallmark movies and watching the cold rainfall, I was going to end up in a permanent state of sleepiness. Even at work in my dull office, the poorly lit rooms and the smell of stale coffee was just adding to the dreariness. Until one day, I saw my cousin doing something I’ve never seen her do. She was knitting a hat with some kind of wheel.
I said – “What’s that?” and she explained she was using it to knit a hat. I was blown away with how easy she made it look. When I went home, I looked up “Hat knitting tool” and found out it was called a Loom. I went to Walmart and found one and spent a solid hour looking at colors and textures of yarn. Within the hour I was on YouTube watching tutorials about knitting with this tool.
For the rest of the winter. I made hats for everybody! My friends and family members, coworkers, neighbors, homeless shelters, Goodwill, you name it. I felt like I was on a mission to make the coolest hat possible. I worked on my hats on my breaks at work, while watching Lifetime movies with my grandma, and waiting for a table in restaurants. Best of all, it allowed me to make gifts for my loved ones when I wasn’t quite feeling up to hanging out with anybody. This gave me a chance to show them I loved them without having to put in social effort.
#6 Call somebody. Anybody.
Sometimes, hearing another person’s voice can really change your perspective on the day. Need to make an appointment? Thinking of a cousin you haven’t seen since Aunt Georgina’s wedding? How is your Dad doing? Sometimes talking on the phone feels like less pressure than making and committing to plans, and still gives you the human connection you need.
#7 Go window shopping. Or real shopping. This is a fool-proof way for me to get out of my lonely brain-space. I work from home full-time, so it is very easy to feel lonely. One quick visit to the grocery store can improve my whole mood. Sometimes, I go to Target just to walk around after my day (but I cannot leave without spending $30…). Small interactions with cashiers, baristas, and strangers can boost your confidence and mood in ways you couldn’t imagine.
#8 Listen to a podcast.
Have you ever watched a TV show and felt like the characters are your friends? Podcasts have that effect on me. The best part is, there is a podcast for just about everything. Do you love food? Check out Face Jam. Need a brain boost? My favorite person for that is Dr. Caroline Leaf with her podcast Cleaning Up the Mental Mess. Want to learn about everything and anything? Stuff You Should Know with Josh and Chuck is the best.
One thing we can all agree on is that we are never truly alone. God is always with us. He can always hear us. He always forgives us. Sometimes, it feels awkward if you haven’t prayed in a while – but there is something about putting your hands together and surrendering your emotions to the Holy Spirit that is grounding. Trust us on this one.
#10 Send us a message. Text “Talk” to 797979.
Finally — this is what we are here for. We’re here for you while you’re lonely, happy, sad, excited, bored, tired, whatever! We like you all the time, for exactly who you are. The best part is, we will never make you feel bad for anything you may be dealing with. At Listen.One, we have verified volunteer Listeners ready to be an open ear for you. We don’t judge. We just want to be your friend.
Now that you’ve finished this article, consider sending us a message! We’d love to meet you. Just text “Talk” to 797979 or send us an email at email@example.com. You can also join our growing Facebook group called Listen.One Sharers Community to meet more people who have reached out to Listen.One.
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