Coping with Loneliness
The technology that we rely on today makes us more connected than ever before. We can talk to people on the other side of the world with the click of a button and send our friends endless messages. We can even share our opinions and life updates with complete strangers. So why do so many of us feel lonely? Of course, the lockdown has been hard on us in this respect. Not being able to see friends or family has been damaging for many of us, especially those who live alone. But even before the pandemic, loneliness was rife. Many of us are reporting that we feel lonely very often. If you identify with these feelings of loneliness and isolation, use these tips to help you connect with others again.
Join a Club
Were you ever part of an after-school club? If you were, you probably have really fond memories of the friends you made and the fun you had together. So why not try this as an adult? Joining a club is a great way to combat feelings of loneliness. Most clubs meet up at least once a month, but often more, meaning that you’ll have regular human contact, outside of your work and household. And although meeting new people can feel a bit awkward sometimes, it’ll be easier to chat with your fellow club members, since you already have one thing in common. Joining a club won’t just help you combat loneliness either — there are so many other benefits. Not only will you have fun doing something you enjoy, but it’ll look great on your CV, and you might even make some professional connections.
Whilst the idea of joining a club sounds great, you may think that you’ll struggle to find the right one for you. It’s easy to find a sports or music club, but you may not have a mainstream hobby and you think that you’ll struggle to find a group to fit into. If this is the case, Meetup is a great place for you to start. They have so many different types of clubs to choose from, including walking groups, groups for gamers and even groups for coders. There are also groups for people who just want to meet up for a drink and a chat too, so there really is something for everyone. If you have a hobby or activity that you’d love to do with others but can’t find a group for it, you can even make one yourself. Not only will you combat your feelings of loneliness, but you might even make some lifelong friends.
The internet can be a great tool for combating loneliness, but it has to be used in the right way. If we’re not careful, social media might make us even lonelier. It’s easy to create the perfect life online. It might seem like the people you follow are out having fun all the time. This is how it feels for me anyway. Every time I go on Instagram, I see friends meeting up for barbeques, drinks, or days at the beach. But it’s likely that their real lives barely resemble the lives that they portray online — because online you only show the good bits. You don’t show the bad days at work, the lonely days, the difficult days. So try not to feel too disheartened by what you see online. Their lives aren’t as perfect as they seem.
There are a number of ways to use the internet as a way to end loneliness, rather than create it. For example, try using Zoom to host a virtual meetup with your friends. This is a great way to catch up with people from all over the world, and it’s something that they will all appreciate. Or you could use the internet to make some new friends. There are internet groups and forums for almost anything, so why not join one you’re interested in? It can be hard to find people that you click with in person. But online, you can easily find people who you can bond with over your shared interest. If you’d rather find a friend you can meet up with in person, technology can still help you out. Did you know that Bumble isn’t just a dating app? You can use it to make friends too, with Bumble BFF. So make yourself a profile, and get swiping.
Contact an Old Friend
Loneliness doesn’t always come from lack of contact, but lack of connection. You might be surrounded by people, but if you don’t have strong bonds with them then you’ll still feel alone. It can be hard to make genuine connections with people, especially as an adult. Once you grow older, you don’t have that same level of vulnerability that makes it easy to connect with others. So if you find yourself lonely despite not being alone, try getting back in touch with an old friend.
It’s easy to lose touch, but fortunately it’s now so easy to reconnect too. Getting back in touch with an old friend can be done a number of ways — over the phone, via social media, or even face to face (as long as you both practice social distancing). And although it might feel scary first, you won’t regret it. Not only will be able to fight feelings of loneliness, but you’ll have a great time, and learn a lot about yourself too.
When it comes to loneliness, honesty really is the best policy. It can be an embarrassing thing to admit though. Whenever I feel lonely, it always seems like everyone else has the perfect social life, and I’m the shy, unpopular kid watching from afar. It feels like everyone else is doing it right, and I’m doing it wrong. Humans are supposed to be sociable, which means that I’m failing. And I know I’m not alone in this. So many people are dealing with feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially in my age group.
Yet loneliness is something we hide from. We live in denial, brush it under the carpet and refuse to discuss it. But we shouldn’t. We need to learn to be honest with our loved ones. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and opening up makes it far easier for us to build genuine connections with others. And by talking about feelings of loneliness, we can break the embarrassment and shame associated with it. If we unite over our feelings of loneliness, we might begin to feel a little less lonely.
Written by Siobhan Kelly
Siobhan is a recent Sociology graduate, with a passion for writing. Her degree has given her experience researching a range of topics relating to the Sociology of both physical and mental health. She has a particular interest in understanding how the effect that body image has on mental health.