Loneliness and being alone are different, and they can be mistakenly categorized as the same emotion when you feel them inside yourself. When you are alone, it may bring rest, connection with yourself and comfort. However, loneliness can be a feeling of disconnection and lead to hopelessness as well as despair.
Loneliness may be a feeling that you are alone with yourself in a way that no one can understand. When you feel disconnected from those around you, there are ways to help yourself. And while you may feel lonely, the people around you may feel similarly to you. The trick is to remember that you are special but not unique and along in feeling lonely.
According to social scientist Brene Brown, nearly half of Americans feel loneliness in their life, and that is likely increasing due to COVID even with restrictions lifting. Even when you are around people, loneliness can occur. In fact, if you identify as an introvert, you may feel more loneliness around people than by yourself.
You have likely felt lonely at some point in your life, and there are ways to help yourself when this happens to improve your mental health.
What can you do to help yourself feel less lonely?
Here are 5 tips to consider for connection when you are feeling lonely:
It may seem like a big feat when you want to be alone with your loneliness because that is part of the temptation. It is cozy to stay alone when you feel lonely and getting outside to connect with nature can help shift from that isolating feeling.
When you go outside, you increase your chance of feeling awe and wonder. This emotion helps you to know that nature is all encompassing, and you are a small part within the grand scheme of things. There is a sense of social connection whether you are with people or not.
One of the best antidotes to loneliness is awe and wonder. Wonder can help you to stay curious about the outside world. Awe helps you to realize that you are part of something much bigger than yourself.
These emotions can be felt anywhere in nature, and Denver along with surrounding areas are notable for nature activities. Whether you immerse yourself into a Colorado experience like Dunton Hot Springs or stay low key with a hike around lookout mountain, there is a spot for you to connect again in Colorado.
You do not need to be religious or have faith to connect through meditation. Loneliness comes from disconnection. Whether you believe in something beyond yourself or not, you can take moments to pause and reflect.
Spending a couple of moments with yourself while practicing positive self-talk can be a form of meditation.
A breath can be meditation.
It doesn’t have to be fancy to work for you and improve your mental health.
If you want to be around others during this process to help yourself through social isolation, guided meditations can help. Spending time with experts in the field and like minded people can alleviate mental health problems like loneliness.
Psychologist and Meditation Teacher, Tara Brach, has several guided meditations available here. Meditation is a helpful tool to develop your spiritual self in order to belong again. Feeling lonely is experienced by young people and older people alike.
Lack of belonging is a key part of loneliness, and when you know that you can come back to yourself, it’s easier to understand how to join the world again.
Movement can be a gesture to show love for yourself. When you are feeling lonely, it can be an insurmountable feat to move your body. Act yourself into the thinking that you desire. Sometimes, you have to do the impossible so that you can think clearly again.
Whether you select a solo exercise or a group activity, movement can help you connect again and improve your mental health. If you are in the Five Points area within Denver, Urban Sanctuary is an ideal spot to move your body in a gentle way through yoga, Bodies By Perseverance offers more intense movement classes with great music and a positive supportive environment. Denver Recreation Centers offer a wide variety of group and solo movement options throughout the Denver Metro Area. These are all wellness communities, and you may meet a new person or new friend with similar interests when you take a risk in a small way.
Movement doesn’t have to be big and doesn’t have to take place at a studio or gym. Remember, taking a walk in nature, whether that is in a park or on a trail is also movement. And, so is simply stretching!
4. Ask for help.
Sometimes, loneliness feels all-encompassing with no end in sight. You don’t have to help yourself by yourself. Some of your best thinking got you here in the first place, so you may have to go outside of your own brain to get the help you need. That is okay.
There is vulnerability in asking for help, and vulnerability increases intimacy with people. By asking for help, you acknowledge that you don’t know everything and have a willingness to learn.
If you identify as a lonely person, building a relationship by asking for help can feel supportive. Asking for help doesn’t have to be a grand gesture; it’s a way to gain social support through a social interaction with a potential loved one or professional and can help alleviate negative thinking.
A starting point to healing trauma and making a meaningful connection can be as simple as engaging in a video course from your home with physician and renowned addiction expert, Dr. Gabor Mate. Denver Metro Counseling has therapists available as well to help with reconnecting and reducing the feeling of loneliness.
5. Connect with animals.
Animals can be a tool to help you feel less lonely when you have a hard time connecting with humans in the moment. Sometimes, telling a story to a pet can be easier than sharing it with a human.
Pets are often considered as a family member and can help you with negative thoughts and a negative feeling. There is a reason that furry friends can help alleviate anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
If you don’t own a pet, there are still ways to connect with animals. Though visiting orchards tend to be most popular in the fall, many have animals available for the public throughout the year. Ya Ya Farm and Orchard has a petting zoo available year-round.
As much as loneliness can tell you otherwise, you are not alone. When you connect through nature, movement, and spirituality; you have the opportunity to belong. A sense of belonging to yourself whether you are alone or not can help be preventative.
You do have everything you need already within you, and you don’t have to practice by yourself. When you struggle with hope, hope can be found through seeking help. You are not alone.
Written by: Randi Thackeray, MA
Clinically Reviewed and Edited by: Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACS, ACC
Denver Metro Counseling is a group of clinicians who provide teen therapy, young adult therapy, adult therapy, family therapy and other counseling and therapy in Denver and throughout Colorado. We specialize in relationships, codependency, communication and boundaries and provide supportive therapy for people struggling with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, ADHD, negative body image, and more.