Loneliness is a natural warning that occurs in human brains, much like hunger or thirst, except it’s telling you that you need company. It’s much easier to buy a burrito than make a friend however, so here’s how to beat back loneliness when you’re lacking human companionship, according to Reddit.
Redditor u/-CharDee-MacDennis posed a simple question to /r/AskReddit, one which we’ve all wondered about during dark times: “How do you stop feeling so alone?”
The answer a lot of folks might give is “go talk to someone,” but obviously it’s not always so simple. Not everyone is good at making human connections; they may be isolated by circumstances or location. These answers are for the times when you need to break the loneliness feedback loop and remind yourself that even when you feel lonely, you’re not totally alone.
Turn to media
For me, watching TV can go either way: sometimes I retreat even farther into my hermetic existence to binge-watch Russian Doll, becoming even more lonely. Other times, I enjoy re-watching old favourites, visiting with the characters I know and love. But this suggestion from u/AliceGaveMeTheHerp shows how you can literally use media to trick your brain:
watch a horror movie in a dark room with headphones on
That’s right — just scare the crap out of yourself. You won’t feel lonely at all if you think there’s a monster under the bed or a ghost in your blender. And if you’re too chicken for horrors movies, reruns really do work, says u/rabbit395:
I feel like the characters on my favourite shows are my friends
Get a pet
My cat doesn’t know everything he does for my emotional health and I hope he never finds out, because our power dynamic is already so skewed in his favour. An animal is a wonderful boon to responsible pet owners, as u/SunnyLego advise:
I have a 13 year old cockatiel. Hard to feel alone when you have a bird blowing kisses at you, wolf whistling/whistling his own songs whenever you’re in the same room as them.
And dogs have the added bonus of getting you out of the house as u/asinglemantear explained:
If you have a dog, you have to walk/socialise it. While you socialise the dog, socialise yourself! I talk to a ton of people when I walk my dog.
Go somewhere crowded
It’s possible to feel lonely in a crowd, but if you’ve been sitting by yourself in the house, give a more public place a try. You don’t even need to talk to anyone, says u/alphamikedelta — just try being in a space with activity:
When I felt alone, I would go to a late hour Starbucks and read a book. And then I didn’t feel so alone anymore...because technically I wasn’t.
I work from home, and sometimes waking up in the same room as my desk makes me feel like a shut-in. Working in a coffee shop or library reminds me other humans exist and feeds that social need on a low level. It’s not the same as a conversation with a close friend, of course, but it’s a start.
Yes — get a hobby
Hobbies are often recommended as a way to meet new people, and while it can be tough to figure out what you’re into, they really do help get you out of the prison of your mind. If you’re doing something you like with other people who also like doing that thing, chances are you have other stuff in common. But not all hobbies are group activities, as u/AlbertFrankEinstein2 illustrates:
Stay busy. There was a time in my life where my world was crashing, I felt so alone. I discovered cooking was a great escape. Put on a record, fixed myself a glass of wine, and started following a recipe. Getting the results of something I created was something AMAZING I was experiencing. And TBH it will work to your favour when you meet that special someone, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Developing your skills doing something you love or even just something new will give your brain something to focus on besides feeling alone.
And that development can contribute to a stronger sense of self, another cure for loneliness. As u/Nichandl says, if you like spending time with yourself, you don’t mind doing it:
I found myself. I grounded my personal values and discovered my interests. I never feel truly alone because I’m not uncomfortable being by myself. 10/10 would recommend
Then u/quantumofgalaxy agreed, though they added more specifics about what finding yourself means:
I think I’m in the middle of this process now with volunteering at the animal shelter, playing guitar with friends, and taking weightlifting/gymnastics classes 4-5x a week. All of these are in social settings though I can also do them alone and they help make me feel fulfilled.
I disagree to some extent — loneliness really is an emotion anyone can feel, even if they like themselves, even if they’re rich, even if they’re emotionally fulfilled 99.9 per cent of the time. But if you’re not comfortable with who you are, you’re less likely to want to share that self with anyone else. Break the cycle of feeling bad in small ways so you can grow and eventually reach a tendril of connection out to another person.