Being alone and feeling lonely are not the same thing - they are complete opposites. Spending time alone affords you enormous benefits like the opportunity to contemplate, sort through thoughts, and calm your mind from the daily barrage of stimuli. This can be especially important during the Holiday Season, and when you take the time to do this, you'll help calm your nervous system.
Loneliness involves a sense of isolation regardless of whether there are hundreds of people around you. If the tips below can be helpful to someone else, please pass them along!
This time of year might be even more difficult for people to feel lonely vs. alone, so try out a few of these six tips to feel more connected to people and less alone in the world.
Six Tips to Help You Feel Less Lonely All Year Long!
Tip #1 - To Feel Less Lonely: Log Off and Tune Out.
Get out of the house and see people face to face rather than on Facebook or Instagram. (Yes, during Covid, this can be challenging). Studies show that too many hours on our computers and phones are detrimental to our mental and physical health if not tempered with real-time contact with others.
The next time you go for a walk, be sure to turn off your phone and be present to notice all of the beauty that's swirling around you. Get out of your head and dive in with your five senses, using your eyes, mouth, nose, ears, and skin.
Refresh your ability to feel alive and notice everything around you - the people, places, and things that surround you at that moment.
Tip #2 - To Feel Less Lonely: Talk to People Around You.
Yes, that means strangers as well. You'd be surprised how many other people feel similarly.
Take a risk and say hello!
Say hello to the woman at the park who is also alone with her kids in the morning.
If you take public transit, smile and strike up a conversation.
I've met incredible people with inspiring stories while riding the subway. Had I been on my phone, I would have never made the connection.
When you're standing in a line at the store, chat with the person behind you.
While in the store, say hello to the cashier.
All of these interactions build your sense of community and allow you to feel a part of something. Get to know the names of the people who work at the places you frequent.
If the thought of talking to strangers is terrifying, a simple hello with a smile will erode awkwardness over time and leave you feeling less bashful.
Tip #3 - To Feel Less Lonely: Get to Know Your Neighbors.
This may be a tough one, but studies have suggested, getting to know people in your immediate community provides a feeling of safety and can bring new friendships as well.
So, instead of going into the house, locking the door, and shutting the blinds, take time to say hi to the guy next door or the woman across the street. Before long, you will be enjoying a newfound sense of community. Getting to know even the annoying neighbors may pave the way for negotiations.
Tip #4 - To Feel Less Lonely: Call People and Make Plans.
Be an instigator for getting together, even if it's simply for coffee or a glass of wine. Rather than feeling lonely, reach out to people and perhaps invite them over or suggest doing something together - a movie, sporting event, Holiday event, or going to a new restaurant.
Go on a hike or walk or anything that builds a connection with the other person. Adopt more of a dolce vita attitude. In other words, live as if you're in Italy, where there are no to-go cups.
Take time to indulge in your relationships. They're as crucial to living a healthy life as breathing clean air. It's not a waste of time sitting with a friend and simply catching up or indulging in conversation. Just like a job, you want to invest time into relationships to make them fulfilling.
Tip #5 - To Feel Less Lonely: Be Honest With Others About How You Feel.
Let people know when you're feeling lonely. You'd be shocked at how many are right there with you! Drag your loneliness into the light of day and talk about it openly. Many of us feel lonely at different stages of life and other times of the year.
Perhaps you're a new mother and on maternity leave. Your partner and friends are at work all day, so you begin to feel isolated. Be honest with yourself and seek other women in the same boat.
If you just moved to a different country or state or switched jobs, take the time to introduce yourself and explain that you're new. Begin to see where you can fit in, chat with co-workers and ask about local spots that deserve checking out. Over time, you'll build mutual camaraderie.
Whenever we're honest about our emotions, we sow the seeds of sincere relationships that leave you with a true confidant as well as a friend.
Tip #6 - To Feel Less Lonely: Get Involved in Your Community.
Enroll in an Improv class.
Join a yoga class.
Join a group of moms and kids at the park for playdates.
Join a political cause.
Enroll in a class at your gym.
Look to your interests as a source for finding meaningful relationships. Maybe you're seeking spiritual insight?
Search for a new church, a synagogue, or a temple that speaks your spiritual language and look into how you can get involved.
Volunteering is another excellent way to make lasting connections by surrounding yourself with others who are also passionate about the same issue.
Attend seasonal events in your community. Most communities have a wide variety of types of events all year long. These events will help you feel connected to the people around you in your day-to-day life.
When you can implement even a few of these six tips into your life, you'll help reduce feelings of loneliness and begin giving yourself the gift of connecting with others. You deserve to feel more connected during the Holiday season and throughout the year!
If you're struggling with loneliness right now, we are here to help with virtual and in-person Imago Relationships Workshops and Imago Relationships Therapy.
Discover more about Imago with our Imago Professional Membership, Imago Professional Facilitators, Imago Professional Training, and Imago Educational Webinars.
Connect. Transform. Thrive.
This blog post was written by Mara Fisher, LCSW, MCC.
Mara is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Master Certified Coach. She is also a Certified Imago Therapist and Advanced Imago Therapist.
Mara's career has grown out of a gift of intuition – which she's been aware of since childhood – and a natural inclination for using that gift to help empower others. Guiding and coaching feel as adventurous to her as the way she's lived her life. Born in New York City, Mara took European trips in her youth and has lived in England, France, and New Mexico in the United States.
Mara believes the boldness and confidence she gained through taking risks and expanding boundaries have contributed to her personal and professional successes. She loves seeing the joy in her clients when they find the courage to challenge themselves and transform their lives as well.
Mara has been a perpetual student, always exploring her inner self by learning new skills and techniques that help her to understand herself, other cultures, and what it is that makes us human. She applies that learning in a way that enables her clients to live fully in the present, to face the challenges in their futures, and to live their dreams.
For nearly three decades, Mara has focused on methods that help her clients realize that they already have answers to their questions. Instead of letting them give their power to her because she can often intuit what is going on in their lives, she can help them claim their power and solve their own problems.
Today Mara serves clients all over the globe through telephone and email communications. Her approach with each individual is uniquely shaped by who the person is and by their circumstances and needs. Tools and techniques selected for each client come from the expertise she's built during her career.
Check out Mara's website too!