I see loneliness all over.
- For the 20 something year olds, just starting out in their jobs working remotely.
- For the elderly lady who lost the love of her life after more than 50 years of marriage.
- For the parents becoming empty-nesters.
- For the recently divorced Mom.
- For the over-booked busy people who can’t find time to grab a coffee with someone.
- For the retired, relocating to a new community.
- For the awkward but oh so lovable middle-schoolers who can’t find their place at the lunch table.
- For the college students. wanting desperately to find their people.
- Or anyone, for any reason who is suffering from loneliness.
Feeling lonely every now and then is normal. But sometimes that loneliness can grow until we feel it more often than not.
When we’re lonely we still want human interaction, but sometimes our mental state can make it challenging to manage.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that feeling lonely blows, but this goes deeper.
Feeling lonely changes the chemistry of your brain, and according to research, it can make mental health issues feel worse.
Loneliness can put you more at risk for developing coronary heart disease and dementia and puts you at a higher risk of stroke.
The good news is that loneliness is something we can all take steps to manage.
If you are naturally more introverted ( me too) simply pushing yourself out the door can feel surprisingly hard, but it makes a huge difference.
Consider this the push you need.
It’s time to start putting yourself out there again.
And don’t limit yourself to only meeting people your age. Everyone needs younger and older friends.
So how do you do it?
I asked my clients and friends how they meet new people and I learned so much.
We put together the top 10 tips for you here:
#1: Check out phone apps.
Some favorites are Bumble BFF (which helps you meet new friends) and Peanut (which connects moms). I have never heard of these, but I love that this kind of connection has evolved past the romantic dating apps.
#2: Every community has a Facebook group.
Join it so you know more about what’s going on. Even if you don’t like facebook, give it a shot.
#3: Throw a party, start a group, or host a book club.
Don’t know anyone? Post a flier at the library or your local coffee shop.
#4: If your town has an events page, check it out.
I get weekly emails from a mortgage broker that tells me what’s happening in Nashville TN. I don’t live there full-time but I bet he is getting his info from the town event page.
#5: Sign up for a class.
There must be something you’ve wanted to learn; cooking, quilting, sewing, pickle ball or heck if you’re up for something more academic go for it. The point is to be with like-minded people. It will help you boost your connections and stave off those feelings of loneliness.
#6: Join a gym.
Over time you start to see the same people. I did this more than a year ago. Not only did I make new friends, but I reconnected with people from my old gym before the pandemic.
It feels good AND you’ll meet people who have the same passions as you.
#8 Develop existing relationships.
Reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Tell them you’ve been thinking about them and you miss them. Apologize for anything you need to (or heck, even just for letting life get too busy). Finally, suggest a time and date to get together and plan something to do. Don’t dump the planning on them. Follow-through, (make the reservation, order the tickets) it shows you’re serious about reconnecting.
#9 Try therapy.
You may find that talking through your loneliness with a professional helps you uncover an underlying cause. You may find a way to combat any social anxiety and feelings of sadness.
#10 Reach out to someone else who is lonely.
When you focus on making someone else feel better, it allows you to stop thinking about your loneliness. And you always feel better after helping someone out.
Take it slow. Don’t expect to go from feeling lonely to suddenly having a jam-packed social calendar. You’ll risk burning yourself out and isolating yourself once more. Take small steps to increase your connections slowly.
Remember, loneliness is a sign that something needs to change. It’s not a sign that something is wrong with you. It’s a sign that you need to seek more connection, so banissh the self-criticism and get yourself out the door and spend meaningful time with others.