How to cope with loneliness

The holiday season is a time for family, friends and festivities. But when social media explodes with images of happy families or when your friends leave you behind to visit their loved ones, this time of the year can make some of us feel deeply lonely. It may feel like you can’t shake off the sadness, but there are strategies to keep you from the deep despair of loneliness. You just need to be intentional, and proactive:

Address your feelings

Pinpoint the thoughts surrounding your loneliness and come up with rational and helpful responses to your feelings. This will help you accept and work through your loneliness.

For example, write down the thoughts you have when you’re lonely which may include:

  • “I’m a loser because I’m alone.”
  • “I’m alone so I have to feel unhappy.”
  • “I can’t handle being on my own.”

After you’ve identified your thoughts, try to get rid of the negative thinking with rational responses.

Your responses could include positive thoughts like:

  • “Being alone doesn’t mean I have to be lonely. I have total freedom to do what I want.”
  • “I’m not a loser because I’m alone. Everyone is alone at some point.”
  • “I can handle being on my own. The feeling of loneliness will subside.”

Phone a friend

Being away from your loved ones can make you feel lonely but it’s also possible to feel lonely when you’re surrounded by people. Tackle this by reaching out to people. Making connections and strengthening bonds can help with loneliness. If you’re away from home, call your friends and family or video chat to stay connected to those you love. If you go out alone to coffee shops or events, spark up a random conversation with a stranger. It may surprise you how easy it is! You could also consider getting a pet which can help you feel needed and loved.

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Be kind to yourself

Taking special care of yourself can help lower feelings of loneliness and help you enjoy your solitude. Treat yourself to spa treatments, home facial masks, or a soak in the bath. Curl up with a good book, have a movie marathon with your favourite films or learn a new language or skill. Alone time is free time; what is the one thing you’ve always wanted to do? The place you wanted to take a drive to? Do it!

Indulge yourself. Taking time to do activities that will make you feel happy or fulfilled will enhance your self-esteem and shift your focus away from feeling alone. Tell yourself that at some point in your life you may be married, have kids and have no time for yourself. So, this is what this time is for now – YOU.

Give to others

Donating your time to charities you believe in can help you feel less lonely and more needed. It allows you to connect with others less fortunate than you. This can help remind you of everything you have to be grateful for like your loved ones, your job or your home. It also helps connect you with like-minded people. You could try helping at soup kitchens, orphanages and even at helplines like Childline.

Make a plan!

Wallowing in your feelings will only make you feel worse, so it’s important to be proactive instead. Address your loneliest periods by making plans to fill them. For example, if you find evenings lonelier than the daytime, fill your evenings with activities. Go to concerts, visit museums or join evening cooking classes or lectures. You could also use online platforms like Meetup.com that helps you connect with people of similar interests.

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