There’s a topic not many of us feel comfortable discussing, but many of us know very well. We all, at one time or another, have felt the pangs of loneliness. We don’t talk publicly about loneliness, because doing so puts us at risk of appearing weak or needy. Yet, we all need friends; we thrive in relationships with other human beings. We all want to feel loved and significant, but at times, we feel unnoticed and like no one cares. So how do we solve our own personal loneliness dilemma?
Sometimes it helps to recognize the reasons we are lonely so that we can address the cause; for instance, we might feel lonely when we have moved or change jobs and don’t know others personally yet Loneliness in this case is part of an “adjustment phase” that we all go through at onetime or another. In time, this type of loneliness will diminish with a little effort. In the meantime, making a point to reconnect with old acquaintances through long distance telephone calls or online social networks, may be of help. It may also help to make plans for a return visit to see our friends if it is doable. In the interim, it’s important to take small steps towards getting to know a new network of people.
If we are feeling lonely because our relationship status has changed, we have lost a significant other to death, or because old friends have moved away, we may need to have a grieving period. There is scientific evidence that shows when we have an empathetic person with whom to share our pain, that we are better able to move through it. We may not feel like it, but it’s up to us to reach out to others who can help meet our needs. In time, we can make a point of trying to rebuild a network of new connections
If our loneliness is because there just is no-one available to us, we can fill the gap in small ways by getting out of the house or office and making small talk with people we meet at the store, at a church group, health club or other public place. Studies show we have a need to speak a certain number of words a day in order to feel healthy. Find someone, anyone, to chatter to and get that release. If we are the “stay-at-home” type, we sometimes bring loneliness upon ourselves. It takes effort to become social. We may need to push ourselves to get out to group activities or to ask someone out for coffee, dinner or a movie.
“Giving back” in some way can help us feel much better about ourselves Volunteering and doing good deeds gives us opportunities to interact with others and possibly develop long-term relationships
Sometimes we have to put “loneliness busters” on our calendar. There’s no doubt about it, we often feel loneliest during special holidays or on occasions such as a birthday or other anniversary date. It may help to plan something special to commemorate the day, or plan ahead to make sure we are with people, rather than waiting until the date creeps up.
Sometimes loneliness is actually boredom. Lonely feelings can become more pronounced when we have nothing to do. Planning our time to include exercise, shopping, errands, hobbies and meeting up with others can help prevent big blocks of nothingness.