Loneliness is actually a very common problem among all kinds of people, young and old alike. And the thing is, curing loneliness is not as simple as having friends and not be alone: there are certainly a lot of people who are not alone but experiencing severe loneliness.
People who are suffering from loneliness also often label it as depression, and loneliness can indeed be a symptom of depression and on the other hand, prolonged loneliness can also cause severe depression.
Yet, what if you are struggling with social anxiety and shyness, and you have long-standing difficulty in making friends? First, know that you are not alone, and the truth is, no one is born with innate social skills, but they all require learning and training. So, while loneliness and depression are common in men with social anxiety, there are ways we can get over it–with time.
Here we will share some actionable tips on how you can deal with depression and loneliness. You don’t have to change your personality, but you can certainly learn new things to help you overcome loneliness
Depression VS Loneliness
First, it’s important to note that there’s a huge difference between depression and loneliness, although many people who suffer from loneliness often mistook it as depression, and vice versa.
Loneliness is a feeling or a temporary emotion that is actually our body’s response to a lack of intimacy . Keep in mind that it’s the intimacy you are lacking, and not necessarily socialization. This is why you can feel lonely even when you are with a crowd. Although loneliness can turn into chronic and severe loneliness, it’s important to understand that loneliness by itself is natural and very common.
Depression, on the other hand, is not an emotion but is a mental disorder. Depression can involve a lot of symptoms like self-hate and even suicidal thoughts. Loneliness can be a symptom of depression, but not always. On the other hand, depression can cause us to isolate ourselves from others, which in turn, produces loneliness
How You Can Deal With Loneliness and Depression
Below, we will share some tips you can implement right away to help overcome your loneliness. Keep in mind, however, that although some of them might seem overwhelming at first, they are definitely doable with training!
Let us begin
1. Accepting Yourself
Whether it’s physical loneliness because you can’t make friends or mental loneliness where you do socialize but don’t get enough intimacy, quite of then the core issue is because you are not confident enough with yourself–or worse, you hate yourself which is a common symptom for depression
Here are what you can do in learning to accept yourself:
Be kinder to yourself
Mind you, there are also people that are simply too hard on themselves. Many of us are our own worst critics. This can cause us to be fearful of letting people get close, producing chronic loneliness in the process.
There are many possible causes of this, including if we were neglected or harshly criticized as a child. The key is to treat yourself well, even when you are not feeling so good about yourself. Be happy, build confidence, and reach out to others.
Remember that you don’t have to be perfect
In fact, it’s your imperfections that might be attractive to others. Nothing can bond two friends or spouses more than when they both being honest about their weaknesses and accept each other’s vulnerabilities. It’s perfectly okay to be imperfect. Similarly, don’t be afraid of making mistakes during friendships.
2.Keep Yourself Busy
Trying to ‘cure’ your loneliness by surrounding yourself with more and more people can be counterproductive. Remember, it’s the intimacy you seek, and not essentially socialization. If you rely on someone to relieve your loneliness, you are going to be lonely again as soon as this person leaves.
A more sustainable approach is to have a list of activities you can enjoy when you are lonely. In short: date yourself. Turn your loneliness into an opportunity to know yourself better, or even develop some new skills in the process. While having healthy relationships is important if you want to fix your mental state and emotions, remember that the most important relationship is with yourself.
Try new things
Learn a musical instrument, join a sports team, learn gardening, and so on. Also, you can join a class/group for activities where you can also meet new people and make friends. If you can join a class where the activity is fun and can develop you as a person, it can bring the best in you and ?cure’ your loneliness and depression. Also, connecting with others via something in common can be very effective in building lasting relationships.
Explore your spirituality
This is actually one of the most effective strategies to combat loneliness. No, you don’t necessarily need to be religious, but people who have a healthy spirituality and/or have a personal relationship with their higher power tend to be better and handling loneliness.
There are many different factors that might contribute here: spiritual communities can provide a lot of opportunities to make friends. Also, the feeling that you belong somewhere can be very helpful. Of course, spirituality can help you accept yourself and things outside your control.
Adopt a pet
Taking care of a pet (i.e. a dog or a cat) can significantly help in relieving your loneliness and depression. Pets can be very fun to interact with, and they are always there, willing to spend time and play with you. Not only your pets can be a loyal companion, but they can also act as an effective therapy for your loneliness.
Get a daily dose of sunlight
Enough sunlight every day can help improve your mood by boosting your serotonin levels. Whenever you can, go outside in the early morning, and expose yourself to the sunlight for at least 10-20 minutes. Don’t forget to use sunscreen as necessary.
You can also sneak this in during your daily activities: enjoy your lunch al fresco, have your coffee outside your office, walk in a local park, and so on.
3. Harness The Power of Technology
Nowadays, we have a lot of tools and platforms at our disposal to help us connect with others and also to keep ourselves busy. The key here is to use them properly.
Use social media right
While social media is often criticized for causing loneliness because they ?replace’ physical interactions, we can turn them into our favor. Use these platforms to connect with various groups and communities, and in turn, connect with new people. Social media should be about interaction, not comparing what you have (or don’t have) with others.
Smart speaker/home assistant
Having a smart speaker in your home, like an Amazon Echo or Google Home can streamline your daily routine and giving yourself something to ‘talk’ with.
Don’t passively surf the net and social media platforms. Instead, be proactive in building and maintaining new connections with other people: give advice on groups and forums, engage in meaningful conversations, and so on.
4. Prioritize in Exploring People, Not Places
Nowadays, traveling and experiencing new places is among many young people’s top priorities in life. However, we have to remember that it’s not the new places that can cure our loneliness, but your connections with people.
So, use your loneliness as a motivation to reach out to new people, genuinely aim to learn about them, and strengthen every single one of your relationships. Build your own social support system, which can often be the most effective method to combat your loneliness.
Here are what you can do:
Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers
It doesn’t have to be a long, meaningful conversation with a total stranger, but even short and seemingly trivial interactions can be very valuable. Simply ask your cashier or barista about their day, trade pleasantries, and so on. These small talks can help significantly by making us feel more socially connected.
Nowadays, we default to contact others while using our smartphones and the internet, but face to face connections can be very important in combating our loneliness. So, ask your old friends or family to meet in that fancy restaurant near you, travel together, and so on.
5. Seek Professional Help
If anything else seems to not be working for you, then it’s probably the time to seek professional help.
A mental health professional can help you explore the root causes of your loneliness. This is especially important if you also feel symptoms of depressions like self-hate, sudden disappearing of enjoyment for your hobbies, and others. Having an experienced total health professional can support you through depression and loneliness as quickly as possible.
Last but not least, the secret of ?curing’ your loneliness is to help others. Why? Because true happiness comes from giving and sharing.
Look out for the people in your community, maintain regular contact with your neighbors, and be helpful. It doesn’t have to be something really big: buy your local kids’ lemonades, organize garage sales, and so on.
You’ll be surprised by how helping others can make you feel better.