We’ve all had to go through feelings of loneliness at one point or another, whether we want to openly admit it or not. This loneliness can materialize as a little tugging when you’re sitting alone, or it can be more of an overwhelming feeling that never leaves you entirely.
Either way, it’s important to recognize and deal with these feelings of loneliness in a healthy way. And what better way to deal with these feelings than to ask the professionals how they do it.
“Even therapists are sensitive to the startling impact of loneliness and grief, especially with the increase in isolation over the past two years due to social distancing,” said Lori Ryland, registered clinical psychologist in Michigan and clinical director of Pinnacle Processing Centers.
So how do the experts go about it? We have put together some methods and techniques below. Hope they help you too.
1. Acknowledge how you are feeling.
As with most feelings, you can’t deal with loneliness unless you recognize that it is there.
“Loneliness is a signal to recognize vulnerability and ask for help,” said Nicole Villegas, wellness coach and founder of Take Action for Self-Care. By simply labeling those feelings, you’ve already taken the first step in improving them, she added.
2. Search for the connection.
Faced with feelings of loneliness, Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali, a certified marriage and family therapist at Zinnia practice in California, said she takes the time to connect with others in real and meaningful ways.
“I contact others through social media or send them an SMS to check with them. I like to have deep conversations with others. I really like to know how they are doing and how I can support them, ”she said.
These connections don’t always have to be with people you already know and love; you might take the opportunity to meet new people. Angela Amias, a licensed social worker in Iowa City, Iowa, said she enjoys finding ways to connect during brief interactions.
“It’s easy to overlook the small opportunities to connect with others,” she said. “I read a study several years ago that showed occasional interactions with strangers improved people’s moods for the rest of the day. Since the pandemic, I have particularly enjoyed my meetings with the vendors at the farmer’s market, with the cashiers at the local grocery store, with the people I meet on my daily walk.
3. Eliminate your feelings.
Amias also shared that sometimes when she feels lonely, she also tries to connect with herself. She said her loneliness often indicates that she isn’t as connected to herself as she should be, and she uses journaling as an antidote.
“The journal helps me reconnect with myself. There is something about sitting down with a cup of coffee, my favorite journal and pen that allows me to slow down and really listen to myself, ”she said.
4. Venture outside for a few minutes.
“When I feel a sense of loneliness, I often look to the natural world for help,” Amias said, adding that taking a moment to absorb everything around her helps her remember that it is part of it all.
Research shows that getting out and walking can also slightly improve mood, which may alleviate some of the feelings of sadness associated with loneliness.
5. Try a quick thinking exercise.
For Kate Ecke, therapist from New Jersey and founder of The Unconventional Therapists, mindfulness is the go-to practice while experiencing moments of solitude.
“I think of how many people are in my immediate neighborhood (so maybe the city I’m in now), then I go out a little further and I think of the county, then the state, then to the country, then to the continent, then the world, ”she explained. “I think about how each of these people is a living, breathing person. May each of them have hopes, dreams and fears. That they all love someone else deeply. That they have all lost something deep.
Her goal here is to remember that there are millions of people who are going through the same human experience as she is right now. “And suddenly I don’t feel so alone anymore,” she added.
6. Determine where the feelings are coming from.
According to Danita Morales Ramos, a licensed professional counselor in Virginia Beach, Virginia, “The feelings are not over. They are simply an experience.
By checking with yourself whether your feeling of loneliness is related to the past or the present, you will be able to cope better.
“I wonder if these feelings relate to something happening in the present or if they relate to my view of the past or the future. Identifying why I have these feelings helps me deal with them properly, ”said Morales Ramos. “If my feelings are rooted in the past, I focus on what I’m facing in the present. Focusing my attention on the present alleviates feelings of loneliness that are rooted in the past. If the feeling of loneliness is rooted in the future (i.e. anxiety), I also use mindfulness as well as positive self-talk to help me focus again on my current situation. .
7. Learn a new skill.
Another way to deal with feeling lonely is to keep your mind occupied with new and interesting things. Jason Drake, a therapist in Katy, Texas, said that as he opened a private practice during the pandemic, he realized he needed to learn how to optimize his website. He decided to contact a search engine optimization expert for some lessons.
“For 12 weeks she guided me and showed me the ins and outs of optimizing a website. During those 12 weeks I have been busy learning this new skill and putting it into practice, ”he said. “Learning a new skill allowed my brain to stay focused on a task instead of letting my thoughts wander into feelings of loneliness. A busy mind is one of the best ways to calm inner dialogue, which has led to decreased feelings of loneliness.
8. Pay attention to the way you talk to yourself.
Drake also said that positive autosuggestion is the key when experiencing loneliness. Since our brains tend to have a negative bias, this means that our thoughts naturally drift into negative things about ourselves or about our life.
“One way to help deal with feelings of loneliness is to look at those feelings realistically. When you feel lonely, you may feel like these feelings last forever. Yet when I remembered that these feelings were temporary and that nothing, including the feelings, lasts forever, it helped the feelings of loneliness diminish in strength, ”he said.