How To Deal With Loneliness When Living Alone, According To Experts
Feeling lonely is a bummer pure and simple, but it truly happens to everyone — especially as you get older, when you might find yourself living alone in your own apartment for the first time. Figuring out how to deal with loneliness when living alone is definitely a challenge, but it's not totally impossible. It all starts with recognizing that, even though you may feel super lonely a lot of the time, you really are never alone.
Every (wo)man is an island, as the saying goes, but even so, feeling connected to people is essential for your well-being. In Britain, for example, loneliness has actually been recognized as a pretty significant health concern, and the nation has even appointed its first ever minister of loneliness to address the issue, The New York Times reports. British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement,
For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.
I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones — people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.
Now, just to be clear, being alone isn't the same thing as feeling lonely. Spending time with yourself can be great, but if you're feeling particularly isolated and blue while living alone, consider some of these expert-recommended suggestions to help you feel more comfortable, and keep those lonely vibes to a minimum.
1. Invite Some People Over
"Living alone doesn't mean you have to be alone all the time," David Bennett, a certified counselor and life coach, tells Elite Daily. "You'd be surprised how many other people feel lonely. That's why it's important to take the initiative to invite people over."
Even if there's not really a special occasion, Bennett suggests throwing a party just for the heck of it. Invite friends over to play video games, watch a movie, and simply enjoy one another's company.
"There are hundreds of reasons to have people over, so find them and use them!" says Bennett.
2. Remember To Get Out Of The House Every Now And Then
Sometimes, feeling really lonely can cause you to sort of shut down, and do nothing but watch a thousand episodes of Riverdale. There's certainly nothing wrong with the occasional Netflix mega-marathon, but when loneliness becomes a constant struggle, Bennett says it's best to get yourself out of the house and be around other people.
"If you spend too much time alone in an apartment, you can start to feel isolated and trapped," Bennett tells Elite Daily. "Instead, get out among people. Go to a coffee shop to get your work done. Choose a night of walking around a park over watching your favorite show."
Being around people, even people you don't know, really can be enough to make you feel better, says Bennett.
3. Reach Out To The Friends Who Need You
Have a friend who's going through a rough patch? Dr. Bradley Nelson, a holistic physician, international lecturer, and author of the book The Emotion Code, says reaching out to someone else who's going through a tough time can help you get out of your own head.
"One of the best ways to overcome loneliness and isolation is to move outside yourself and take action to help others," Dr. Nelson tells Elite Daily. "That takes the focus away from you and enables you to turn that lens around so it is not pointed at you and all your trouble; instead, it is pointed at somebody else who needs you."
4. Remember That Social Media Isn't The Solution
According to Merle Yost, a licensed marriage and family therapist, it's crucial to actually see your friends face-to-face, rather than just text them or connect through social media.
"Facebook and Instagram are not enough," Yost tells Elite Daily. "You need to talk to people. Meet them for exercise, catching up, a movie, something with in-person contact with others."
Social media can be great, but you have to admit, it's just different when you can actually hug and laugh with a person you love, you know?
5. Go Out To Eat — Even If You're Alone
"A key to combating loneliness is to find two or three places to eat, where you go often," Yost tells Elite Daily. "You get to know the staff, you ask their names, they know your name, they know what you like to eat."
Even if you're dining solo, a good book always makes for a solid companion, and like Yost says, when you find that one cafe you love and keep coming back to, you're bound to start recognizing a few familiar faces, and soon, you'll build plenty of new connections.
6. Know That It's OK To Reach Out For Professional Help
Loneliness can sometimes be a deeper issue that won't be easily solved by a gals' night, and that's totally OK. Dr. Ryan Hooper, a Chicago-based clinical psychologist, says many of his clients who struggle with loneliness often have a hard time pushing themselves to connect with others.
"They experience some form of social anxiety that holds them back from asking that friend to go out for coffee, or going to that art gallery that their friend was asking them to attend," Dr. Hooper tells Elite Daily.
Together, Dr. Hooper and his clients make a plan and take steps to eliminate that fear and resistance: "By setting their own expectations on a week-by-week basis," he explains, "[my clients] often find it's easier to challenge themselves to get off the sofa and into the world."
So, if you need a mental health professional to help you through your loneliness, remember there's no shame in reaching out for help. You deserve to be happy, and there are so many people who can help you get there.