How to Overcome Loneliness

Three Methods:Exploring Your Feelings and Self-PerceptionPracticing Positive InteractionsReconnecting with Others

At one point or another, everyone experiences feelings of loneliness. It can be difficult to feel alone, and it may bring up feelings of sadness or nervousness. There is nothing wrong with feeling lonely. Instead of dwelling on the loneliness and feeling even worse, you can reach out in new ways and find ways to combat the feelings inside. It’s possible to move from a place of loneliness to a place of connection.

Method 1
Exploring Your Feelings and Self-Perception

  1. Image titled Stop Feeling Lonely Step 14
    Admit your feelings. If you’ve felt sad, down, and disconnected from other people, you may feel lonely. Think about the contact you’ve had with others recently and whether it’s been fulfilling to you. Sometimes you can have people in your life and still feel lonely if your social and emotional needs are not met.
    • Loneliness is different than solitude. You can be solitary and not lonely, and sometimes you may need some time alone.[1] Loneliness is a negative emotional state.
  2. Image titled Stop Feeling Lonely Step 11
    Accept your loneliness. While it may be easier to push feelings of loneliness aside, sit with them and allow yourself to feel your emotions. You may find yourself turning to tv, sleep, or video games. Recognize that avoiding feelings of loneliness will not make them go away. Instead, commit to acknowledging the feelings, and be aware of when you feel lonely.[2]
    • Overcoming loneliness doesn’t mean pushing it aside. It means accepting what you’re feeling, and then taking steps to improve the negativity you feel around being lonely.
    • Take a moment and see if you can feel where loneliness affects you within your body. Does it cause tightening in the chest, or tense shoulder muscles?
  3. Image titled Resolve Trust Issues in a Relationship Step 6
    Learn to be alone. Being alone doesn't automatically make you feel lonely, so if you experience this emotion whenever you spend time alone, you need to work through your discomfort with spending time on your own. Maybe you have your own apartment for the first time, or maybe you are just recently divorced or dealing with the death of a spouse. Make an effort to engage in activities that decrease your loneliness and help you begin to feel comfortable with solitude.
    • Try writing a letter, doing a craft (like sewing, painting, or knitting), caring for a pet (or getting a pet if you don't have one), cooking yourself a fancy meal, reading, or writing a story or even a novel.[3]
    • Things to avoid include drinking alcohol alone, mindlessly consuming food or watching hours of television, escaping through recreational drugs.[4]
  4. Image titled Stop Feeling Lonely Step 5
    Strengthen social connections. If you feel lonely even when you're in a crowded room or among friends, you may need to strengthen your connection to your social support system. Work on increasing your communication skills, which can help deepen your relationships.
    • Learn to communicate assertively, meaning you make your needs known while respecting the needs of others.
    • Improve your listening skills to let your friends know you really hear them and care about what they have to say.
    • If your social circle is unable to meet your emotional and social needs, you may need to make new friends who support you. Or you may need to simply expand your social circle to include more people.
  5. Image titled Stop Feeling Lonely Step 4
    Overcome feelings of rejection. Maybe you’ve retreated from people because you’re scared people won’t like you or they will reject you. Just like loneliness, rejection happens to everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t quite "click" with a group of people. By letting go of your fears and choosing to trust other people, you can begin to be more trusting in relationships.[5]
    • Not everyone is out to hurt you. If you fear re-living a past bad relationship or friendship, know that there are many good people and good relationships.
  6. Image titled Find Out Why Someone Is Mad at You Step 4
    Don’t allow your mind to get stuck in the “shoulds. Maybe you experienced a bad outcome from a social situation that you replay in your mind over and over, wishing it had gone differently. Or maybe you have rules for how you engage with other people. When you tell yourself that you “should” do something, or that you “should have” done something differently in the past, you can end up feeling guilty or disappointed in yourself.[6] You cannot change the past. If you wish things had gone differently, acknowledge the situation and your feelings, and resolve to respond differently next time something similar comes up.
    • Instead of thinking in shoulds, ask yourself a question instead. Instead of saying “I should be social”, replace it with “Would being social be beneficial for me?”
    • Instead of thinking “I should have handled that situation differently” replace it with “How can I approach that situation differently next time?”
  7. Image titled Stop Over Thinking in a Relationship Step 3
    Disallow negative self-talk. When you catch yourself thinking, “I’m so stupid,” or “I can’t believe I’m such a failure,” or “This goes the same way every time,” challenge those thoughts and have a positive comeback. Once you bring awareness to your negative talk, you may be surprised at how inaccurate or exaggerated your thoughts are.[7]
    • Instead, say, “Sometimes I struggle in social situations, but every conversation is better and better,” and “It’s not fair for me to assume things will go disastrously. It’s up to me to have a good attitude.”
  8. Image titled Find Out Why Someone Is Mad at You Step 3
    Challenge negative perceptions of social situations. You may feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts when you are around people, which may lead you to isolate yourself. You may think the social event will be boring, or you won’t enjoy the people around you. Keep in mind that your negative thoughts may not reflect reality.[8]
    • Ask yourself if there are different ways you can look at the situation.
    • Practice seeing the situation from a different point of view, as an outsider. How do things look different?
    • If you find yourself thinking, “I shouldn’t have come to this party,” challenge the perception. You may meet someone interesting or be surprised at how fun the environment is.
  9. Image titled Stop Feeling Lonely Step 15
    Dispel feelings of anxiety. Some people avoid social situations because they feel concerned about looking foolish in front of people or saying something stupid. Or, you may worry about what other people think of you. These are things that contribute to social anxiety. Learn to accept yourself, in both your social successes and failures.[9] And remember, everyone makes social mistakes!
    • Almost anyone you talk to has a story of when they said or did the wrong thing, and will most likely laugh about the situation when telling you the story.
    • Just the same way you’re evaluating yourself, others are doing the same with themselves. Often, people are far more concerned with their own social performance to notice that you are nervous or anxious.[10]
  10. Image titled Stop Feeling Lonely Step 17
    Overcome shyness. If you’re shy, you may feel uncomfortable about meeting new people or overwhelmed in social situations. It may take you some time to warm up to new people or to feel comfortable in a group setting. You may also struggle to approach someone in a social situation.[11] Much of overcoming shyness is about overcoming fears and “going for it.” If you’re nervous to approach someone or start a conversation, try it. Often it’s less scary than you think, and you feel more confident the more you do it.
    • Start slow. Determine to push your comfort zone little by little by trying a new social experience every month and building up the intensity with each new experience.
    • If you have a dog, go to the dog park and bond with other people who also have dogs. There are plenty of things to talk about, and breaking the ice isn’t so hard. If you cannot adopt or care for a dog, volunteer to walk dogs at a local animal shelter.[12]

Method 2
Practicing Positive Interactions

  1. Image titled Stop Feeling Lonely Step 16
    Build your social skills. Some people feel tense or nervous or avoidant of social situations, which can lead to less interaction and more feelings of loneliness.[13] Isolation may be a result of feeling incompetent in your social skills. By building your social skills, you can gain confidence and feel more prepared to interact with other people.[14] Remember that they are not called social talents but social skills, meaning that you can learn and build on them. Start small and continue to build your skills.
    • Smile at people around you.
    • Start a small conversation with the receptionist or the grocery store clerk.
    • Practice your conversational skills with your family.
    • Come up with topics to discuss with people that are enjoyable to talk about. This can include movies, video clips, or something funny that happened to you.
  2. Image titled Stop Feeling Lonely Step 13
    Show good manners. When speaking or listening to people, show good manners. Above all, having good manners means treating people with kindness.[15] Avoid finishing other’s sentences, cutting them off, or changing the subject abruptly. Take turns speaking, and contribute about 50/50 to conversations. It’s difficult to converse with someone who does not engage in the conversation, but it can also be frustrating to listen to someone who won’t stop talking.
    • If you feel like you are talking too much, start asking questions.
    • Don’t be afraid to apologize if you are rude. If you cut someone off, say “I’m sorry I cut you off. There’s something I want to say but I want to listen to what you have to say first.”
  3. Image titled Find Out Why Someone Is Mad at You Step 13
    Be a good friend. Even if you feel like you don’t have strong friendships in your life, you can learn to be a good friend and enact these skills when people do come in your life. Treat people the way you want to be treated[16]: be reliable, friendly, caring, thoughtful, and trustworthy.
    • Think about people that have been good friends to you, or think about friendships you appreciate in tv shows or movies. What about them do you admire? How can you be a better friend by doing similar things?
  4. Image titled Act Silly with Your Girlfriend Step 4
    Use self disclosure. Friendship is based on intimacy, and we often consider close friends as people we can confide in and share all parts of ourselves. To deepen friendship, begin by disclosing something about yourself. It doesn’t have to be your darkest secret, but something you wouldn’t typically tell someone when you first meet. Gauge this person’s interest. Does she seem interested and engaged? Does she also share about herself and her experiences back with you?[17]
    • Be careful not to overshare. It’s important to gauge the person’s interest and not overwhelm her with personal information.
  5. Image titled Find Out Why Someone Is Mad at You Step 19
    Express open body language. Your body language can communicate to other people that you are open and available for conversation or that you are closed and unapproachable. If you want people to talk to you, make sure that you look approachable and communicate openness through your facial expressions, body language, and of course, words.[18]
    • Don’t cross your body. Crossing your arms or legs gives a message of being closed off. Instead, keep your arms and legs uncrossed. You can keep your arms at your sides, in your pocket, or you can hold something, like a drink.
    • Nod your head or use your hands to portray understanding or communication.
    • Angle your body towards the other person. If someone is talking to you and you are facing the other way, it can be strange.
    • Make eye contact. Eye contact shows that you are engaged in conversation. Not making eye contact can feel distant or even distrustful.

Method 3
Reconnecting with Others

  1. Image titled Stop Feeling Lonely Step 6
    Reconnect with those that you miss. If your loneliness is caused by physical isolation, such as moving away from those that you love, contact them. With such incredible access to technology, reconnection is easy. It’ll be a bit different, but it is nonetheless comforting to regularly reconnect with those you love, especially when they are far away.
    • Write e-mails or use one of many phone or live video platforms on the internet to connect with those you love.
  2. Image titled Stop Feeling Lonely Step 7
    Volunteer with animals. You are not the only human that is lonely, and you are not the only being that is lonely, either. If surrounding yourself with people is too big of a step to take for now, you can begin to relieve feelings of loneliness by spending time with animals. Volunteering at an animal shelter is a great way to contribute to your community and help out animals. Many of the animals at shelters feel lonely, and spending time with you will brighten your day and their day, too.
    • Volunteering can include playing with animals, taking them for walks, and participating in their care.
    • Volunteering with animals can help open doors to find jobs with animals and give you experience that employers may be looking for in employees.[19]
  3. Image titled Stop Feeling Lonely Step 8
    Volunteer with people. Find opportunities to volunteer, such as with after-school children’s programs, at a nursing home, with foster children, or at your spiritual or religious center. There are plenty of people within your own community that need help. Volunteering helps connect you with people in need, as well as places you on a team of other volunteers, in addition to boosting your self-confidence and bringing fulfillment to your life.[20]
    • Making friends with other volunteers is easy because you already have things in common and enjoy helping other people.
  4. Image titled Stop Feeling Lonely Step 3
    Join a group activity. Activities and hobbies allow you to enjoy doing something you love and meet other people with similar interests at the same time.[21] If you’re unsure of what your hobbies are or where to get started, follow your interests and start exploring different activities. Here are some ideas of different groups you can join:
    • Exercise, sports teams, hiking, or running clubs
    • Art, music, or poetry classes
    • Spiritual or religious groups
    • Gardening groups
    • Travel groups
    • Baby and parenting classes
  5. Image titled Find Out Why Someone Is Mad at You Step 18
    Connect with others dealing with the same isolation. If you feel you're on the fringes because of your gender identity, race, disability, or sexual orientation, seek out others that are going through the same thing through discussion groups or organizations. Seek out people that are similar to you, and find comfort in having a shared experience.
    • Don’t just connect on negative experiences; keep in mind the wonderful things that make you different. Find ways to celebrate your differences and support each other in shared experiences.


  • If you are feeling depressed or anxious as a result of loneliness, don't hesitate to seek professional help through your doctor or a counselor.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (18)

Article Info

Categories: Managing Sadness and Nostalgia | Single Life