10 Things to Do If You're Feeling Lonely, According to Therapists


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Have you ever felt lonely? Whether it's lonely in regard to not being around people or getting in our own heads, chances are each of us has felt lonely at some point in our lives. Loneliness can lead to feelings of sadness and low self-esteem in some people. Regardless of how one experiences loneliness, there's typically this yearning for fulfillment by way of other people. If this sounds familiar, then you've come to the right spot. Now, you might be wondering about how to deal with this feeling. Let's just say if it were as easy as surrounding yourself with people, there would be a lot fewer lonely people. However, it's a bit more complex than that, and learning how to cope with loneliness involves some effort.

We've tapped a few therapists to get some tips on how to cope—from volunteering to managing social media feeds—that might help you get out of that rut and back into your life again.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used in lieu of professional treatment. While these techniques might help improve your mental health, it's always best to see a therapist or psychologist for more intensive care.

1. Volunteer in the Community


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Whether it's helping out at a soup kitchen or assisting at a local daycare, volunteering is an easy way to give back to the community and help combat feelings of loneliness.

"Making a difference brings rich meaning to our own lives and results in more life satisfaction," says Rachna Buxani-Mirpuri, LMHC, NCC, BC-TMH, author of A Pint of Patience With a Dollop of Love.

Another therapist also attested to the potential benefits of volunteering on overall mental health. "Not only will volunteering help you engage with people, but research indicates that altruism creates a sense of belonging and helps us keep things in perspective," says Rachel Miller, LMFT, founder of Hold the Vision Therapy.

2. Be Your Own Best Friend


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This might sound counterproductive, but let's take a second. For some people, feelings of loneliness don't only occur when they aren't with people but also when they are with people. Have you ever been in a crowded room yet still feel alone? That's what I'm talking about.

"Loneliness can be a direct response to your lack of connection to yourself. It may not even have to do with other people but how deeply connected you are to your own self," says Mariel Buqué, Ph.D., holistic psychologist and Olly Wellness ambassador. "Set up a routine where you ask yourself questions and answer in your journal. It's so rewarding to know yourself better and can even benefit the relationships you have with others." This includes practicing self-care because it can be hard to recognize what you want if your basic needs aren't being met.

"Taking care of you, even by doing the little things like drinking enough water or stretching before bed, are even more important when you're feeling down," says Madeline Lucas, LMSW, therapist and clinical content manager at Real. "Getting some sunlight, taking care of your physical health through exercise and healthy eating, getting good sleep—these consistent, small steps can support you in moving through the difficult feelings of loneliness and can become anchors that ground you in yourself."

3. Pick Up a Hobby


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Sometimes it's easy for adults to lose track of what they enjoy doing outside of work. However, not only do hobbies in themselves invoke joy, but many times, they can serve as a great way to meet people.

"The things that we find ourselves being most passionate about often bring us some of our greatest joys, and joy is a great combatant of loneliness," says Joshua Marshall, LMFT, LCDC, of Connections Wellness Group. "It can be anything from spending time in nature or working on an art project to using your time to learn something new that interests you or taking up a new hobby such as cooking, knitting, woodworking, or photography."

4. Get a Dog


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Well, it doesn't necessarily have to be a dog, but dogs are cute, so there's that. If you have a pet already, then you might have noticed that they are great at keeping you company and can help you cope with loneliness. Especially during a time when people are isolated from other humans, having pets can help many feel less alone.

"Pets are extremely helpful in preventing the feeling of loneliness,” says Buxani-Mirpuri. "Adopt a pet who you can care for, once again providing you with a sense of purpose."

5. Recognize the Feeling


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If you're not sure why you've been feeling down, chances are you could be lonely. The first step to healing is to recognize that there is a problem or something that needs to change.

"We can't process or respond to an emotion if we don't acknowledge and accept its presence," Miller says. "Simply saying, 'I am feeling lonely,' begins the process of moving through the feeling. Loneliness isn't good or bad. It just is."

6. Talk to a Therapist


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Many people think that therapy is just for people who are anxious or depressed. While that is partially true, a therapist can help you identify and work on coping with loneliness. "Therapists are experts at helping folks navigate the feeling of being alone and helping them build confidence to better navigate social interactions going forward," says Kelly O'Sullivan, LCSW.

7. Manage Your Social Media Feed


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While it's impossible to have a perfect social media feed, you can take steps to help the algorithm push content that you want to see and is uplifting. Sometimes Instagram can make you feel lonely when people look like they are constantly doing something or hanging out with friends. However, as the common phrase goes, "Instagram is the highlight reel."

"If what you're seeing online and on social media is leaving you feeling more isolated, left out, and lonely, reducing the amount or being more intentional about what you're viewing can help," says Miller.

Now, this doesn't mean unfollowing your friends, but remember that social media isn't exactly real life. It's just highlighting what people want others to see and not the other "not so fun" parts.

8. Ditch the Phone


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Similar to being mindful of your social media usage, you could always ditch the phone. Yes, you might need it for calls, but you don't need social media. If you find that social media is just setting you up to feel lonely, then just delete the apps. It's easier said than done, but over time, your mental health will thank you.

"Scrolling social media when you're feeling lonely can be a vicious spiral, making you feel like everyone on Earth is out having fun without you," says O'Sullivan. "Redirect some of that alone time into recharging with a book, exercise, or another unplugged activity."

This coincides with finding a hobby because with the time you would have spent scrolling mindlessly through TikTok you could use that to foster new relationships and learn a new skill.

9. Be Mindful of Bedtime Loneliness


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For some people, those few minutes before bed can generate feelings of loneliness that can be difficult to deal with. However, there are a few ways to combat that, whether it's with a weighted blanket or sleep gummies to help achieve a good night's rest.

10. Call a Friend


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Good friends will be there for you when you're feeling lonely. Even if they can't physically be there, they'll be around to lend an ear for you to talk about what you're experiencing.

"The first and most important step is reaching out and telling someone you feel lonely," O'Sullivan says. "You'd be surprised how much relief just verbalizing that to another person can bring and what support systems are available to you that you weren't expecting."

Next, 16 Expert-Approved Tips for Managing Your Mental Health


This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions.