Knowing how to alleviate loneliness — distress you may experience when you feel separate from others — is important to your overall well-being.
What does it mean if I feel lonely?
Loneliness means there’s a void in your life. It may surprise you to learn you can feel lonely even if you interact with people daily, live with others, or are in a relationship. Loneliness can also involve social isolation, where you have little to no contact with other people.
Is loneliness harmful?
Prolonged feelings of loneliness and social isolation are associated with serious health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, cognitive decline and depression. You can, however, change the circumstances that are making you lonely.>
How do you stop feeling lonely?
To end loneliness, acknowledge how you’re feeling and examine the cause. Maybe you moved to a new town where you don’t know anyone or ended a long-term relationship. Maybe you lost someone close to you or feel isolated. Maybe you and your spouse have lost intimacy over time. Whatever the cause, identify it, talk to your significant other about it if that’s a factor, then discuss the issue with a counselor, trusted clergy member or family member who may be able to suggest support groups or other resources to help combat the problem.
Another idea is to pick up the phone and reconnect with an old friend or a sibling who may be feeling lonely, too. Arrange a weekly or biweekly call to catch up or organize a phone tree to check up on one another and other people who may be experiencing similar isolation. A local church or community center may have insight about who could benefit from such efforts.
How do you fight off loneliness?
You can combat loneliness and social isolation by putting yourself out there, meeting new people and making new friends. You may have to work through some awkwardness when making friends as an adult that you didn’t experience as a child, but the reward is worth the effort.
If you feel the impulse to reach out but shy away from introducing yourself to new people or stepping up your social interactions, you are not alone! St. Elizabeth Physicians Behavioral Health providers offer programs and services that can help.
Consider these options for meeting others.
- Join a group with interests similar to yours, such as a book club, craft group, choir or supper club.
- Make a weekly visit to a senior center or nursing home to read aloud to people or share a conversation.
- Volunteering can give you a renewed sense of purpose
and connection with other people. Check out opportunities with an organization
you admire. Example include:
- Animal shelter
- Children’s museum
- Community garden
- Food bank
- Habitat for Humanity program
- Literacy program
- Meals on Wheels program
- Mentoring program
- Soup kitchen
- You are also very welcome to check out the current volunteer services needs and programs at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.
Grow your tech skills. The internet can help you stay connected to other people when you’re socially isolated. If you don’t know how to use a computer, tablet or smartphone for email, social media or Zoom calls, ask your local librarian to show you or take a class at your local community center or community college.
Looking for a volunteer position? Join the more than 1,400 volunteers at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. Learn more.