Perhaps the most ironic thing about feeling alone or isolated, is that it’s categorically universal. At this very moment, countless people all over the world are also experiencing loneliness or feeling isolated. Particularly with so many people plastering their vibrant social lives all over social media, it can be a hard to avoid comparing your life with the snapshot you see on Instagram or any other platform. Comparing what you see online with what you have in your life only serves to amplify negative emotions when you feel alone.
Put simply, loneliness has been defined as ‘the discrepancy between what you have and what you want from your relationships’. When you feel alone it is not necessarily related to physical isolation. You could feel at your loneliness when you’re in a crowd or surrounded by your friends and family.
Why do I feel alone?
Feeling alone often has little do with being physically isolated, and more to do with your mentality. Feelings of loneliness are often a consequence of dissatisfaction with what you have, rather than whose around you. You may feel that you haven’t got anyone in your nearest and dearest that actually ‘gets you’ or perhaps your life is taking a different trajectory and you’re finding it hard to relate with your friends. Whatever the reason for feeling alone, there is nothing shameful about it and it’s a very normal and natural experience.
“I shouldn’t be feeling lonely”…Ever said that to yourself?Quite often feelings of guilt or resentment creep in when we’re feeling lonely but surrounded by our friends and families. It’s so natural to beat yourself up a bit when you start to feel alone- but we’re here to tell you to stop. Like we said before, when you feel alone it typically has nothing to do with whose around you so stop feeling guilty for your emotions and start telling yourself that “it’s OK that I feel lonely sometimes”.
What can feeling alone look like?
Feeling alone can actually be a sign of personal growth and development. You might find you have outgrown previous relationships or are taking some time to work on yourself. Either way, when you’re in the midst of it, feeling alone can suck.
Understanding WHY you’re feeling alone is one of the first steps to combatting it. Here are a few examples of what feeling alone can look like for someone:
- I feel like nobody needs me
- I feel like I’m not important to anyone
- I feel alone within myself
- I’m not happy with where I’m at in my life
- It feels safer to be alone, then I can’t get rejected
- I feel like I don’t have anyone to tell my good news to
- I feel alone when I’m surrounded by people
- I feel like I don’t have any meaningful relationships
When you feel alone it can be a suffocating and overwhelming experience triggering other mental health concerns, such as anxiety and depression. As it is often a derivative of your mental state, it can be hard to escape or pull yourself out of a loneliness slump, and once you give way to the negative emotions it can become increasingly difficult to get back on track. A 2020 study showed that approximately 3 million people in England often or always feel alone. So just remember, as ironic as it sounds, you are not alone in feeling alone.
10 ways to help yourself when you feel alone
Nobody enjoys being lonely and you’re probably looking for some ideas for what do when you feel alone. If that’s the case, follow these 10 steps to combatting loneliness and start feeling good about yourself again.
1. Admit that you are lonely
For a lot of people, admitting when they feel lonely can be a huge hurdle to overcome. Feeling alone can come with a lot of shame and embarrassment for some people, so accepting and admitting that they’re not feeling 100% in themselves is a big milestone and a key step to overcoming loneliness.
Remind yourself that it’s OK to feel alone, there is nothing shameful about it and nobody is judging you. In fact, by admitting you’re struggling to your friends and family members won’t just relieve a burden form your shoulders, but they are more likely to rally around you and prove that you’re not as isolated as you feel.
2. Don’t distance yourself
When we’re feeling lonely, cutting ourselves off from everyone around us can feel like the safest bet to avoid getting rejected or hurt. Don’t lean into your loneliness and deny yourself physical contact with people, as this will only amplify your feelings of isolation and you risk losing people around you as a result. If you are not open with how you are feeling and simply go cold turkey on your friends, they won’t be in a position to give you time or understand what you’re dealing with. So don’t stop the interactions all together, put yourself out there and accept it might not feel fabulous at first. You’re not a superhero, and even Batman needed Robin.
3. Start a gratitude journal
As Melody Beattie so eloquently said, “gratitude turns what we have into enough”. By writing down a few things that you’re grateful for you can shift your mindset from negative to positive and start seeing your life from a different perspective. Realising what you DO will help to stop you wallowing in what you DON’T have.
4. Reconnect with self care
Make the most of some of your alone time to get back to in touch with yourself. Put your mind and body first and practice some self care. Whether that’s journaling or meditating, indulging in a pamper evening, re-reading your favourite book series, do things that help you feel grounded and present. Prioritise yourself and become your own best friend!
5. Get outdoors
Getting yourself outside and in nature can be a fantastic way to tackle feeling alone. Mariel Buqué, a psychologist and professor at Colombia University, says that spending time in nature shows us how much life is out there beyond human life and how naturally connected we are to all of it.
Being active will also help to alleviate some of the negative emotions associated with being alone and boost the positive feel-good hormones flowing around your body, like endorphins and serotonin.
Focusing on others rather than yourself is a fantastic tool for dealing with loneliness. Giving back to your community or volunteering at a charity will not only make a good use of any extra time but also help you to feel grateful and positive about what you have. It’s also a great way to expand your network and build some meaningful connections.
7. Join a club
Always wanted to try pottery? Now is your chance! If pottery doesn’t do it for you then this is your sign to start learning whatever new skill you’ve been thinking about for a while now. Any activity that puts you in a social environment on a regular basis is going to be a positive experience for you, so immerse yourself in a new hobby, it could literally be anything, and we guarantee you’ll meet some likeminded people as well.
8. Adopt a pet
Pets can be a wonderful medicine for loneliness, particularly dogs. It’s why they make such fantastic support animals, they’re intelligent, intuitive and always happy to see you. Adopting a pet in need from a local rescue centre can give your life some more direction and purpose. Your pet will depend on you, and this can be a great way to take your mind of feeling alone as you invest yourself in your new furry sidekick.
Just remember, a pet is for life not just for loneliness, so if you’re going to do this, make sure you can fully commit before jumping in!
If you’re not in a position to adopt a pet of your own, then you can always volunteer to walk the dogs at a local rescue centre or spend some quality time with the animals. You’ll be brightening their day as much as they will be brightening yours.
9. Write down positive memories
Stephanie Cacioppo, professor of psychiatry and behaviour neuroscience, states that just 15 minutes per day scribbling down some special moments you’ve experienced or shared with your nearest and dearest can be enough to counteract negative emotions. Reminding yourself of these positive experiences will help to keep you grounded and prevent you from wallowing in negativity. If you don’t have 15 minutes a day, then no stress! Gratitude journals or positivity planners are an excellent tool to help you along the way and bring some structure to your mindfulness.
10. Work with a mental health professional
Sometimes, we all need a little extra help. Accepting and admitting that you’re not OK and asking for help is one of the bravest steps you can take when you feel alone. Over time feelings of loneliness can spiral into low self-esteem and self-hatred and we start to convince ourselves that we deserve to be alone and that we are unworthy of having friends or social interactions. By reaching out to a mental health professional, you will be armed with new tools and tactics to overcome this negative thought pattern and stop you from isolating yourself.
If you need to chat to someone, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Morale are always looking for ways to boost self esteem and help people to feel wanted and appreciated. If you are concerned that anyone in your network is feeling alone or isolated, then we’ve got just the thing to help. Now you can anonymously send anyone in your network a positive affirmation every day and show them that you care about them and that they’re not alone at all. Just a few words of encouragement will help to give them a much-needed confidence boost and start shifting their mindset. It doesn’t take much from you, but we guarantee it will make all the difference for someone who is feeling a little lonely at the moment.
Got any feedback for us? We’d love to hear what you have to say, just drop us an email to email@example.com