The internet has made connecting and communication with others easier, and more accessible than ever before. You would think it impossible to feel lonely in this day and age, considering the amount of time we dedicate to interacting with other people on social media. But it seems this replacement of physical contact with virtual contact is leaving us feeling isolated; we are suffering a loneliness epidemic, and it is an increasing problem in modern life.
Today is National Cheer Up the Lonely Day in the US, so we put together some tips to help you combat loneliness. You might feel lonely, but you are definitely not alone!
1. Remember that profiles are not people and followers are not friends
Yes, looking at social media, you would not be wrong in thinking that anyone with an Instagram page is having the best time ever, and has the best friends ever, the best family ever, the best partner ever – even the best dog #EVER! But remember, you are only seeing what people want you to see. You actually have no idea what is really going on behind the screen. Just because someone has 10,000 followers does not mean they have 10,000 friends. We are all guilty of ‘hyping’ up our lives on social media, so we should know that our profiles are not a wholly accurate representation of our reality. Don’t compare your life, and friendships to something that is just not real, or attainable – comparison is the thief of all happiness.
2. Remember your worth
If you have felt lonely for a significant amount of time, it is likely that you might start to feel unwanted and/or unworthy of other people’s company. This can lead to you viewing social occasions as further opportunity for rejection. You may start to shut yourself off from people as a consequence, as you don’t believe your presence will be missed or worthwhile. But always remember, if you have been invited, it’s because your company is wanted! You are deserving of all love and kindness people have to offer you, so accept the invitation, get out there and enjoy yourself!
3. Do something you enjoy – join a club/class or volunteer
Good friends often have much in common; find something you enjoy doing and you will be sure to meet some likeminded people. Sporty? Go to an exercise class, or join a run club/gym. Arty? Go to a life drawing class or attend an exhibition! Musical? Get down to your local venue and support some up-and-coming bands! You could even volunteer your time somewhere. Make the effort to introduce yourself; you’ll meet a whole new bunch of people, and these new people have the potential to become new friends!
4. Compliment yourself
Are you self-doubting? You may have let your insecurities get the better of you, and this might be preventing you from putting yourself out there socially. Try acknowledging one positive thing about yourself a day, as a gradual reminder that you are perfect just the way you are and do not need to change for anyone!
5. Do not settle for bad friends
You may be craving company, but don’t give your time to people who do not value, or deserve it. You can still feel lonely in the company of others; Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at NYU, noted: “Reams of published research show that it’s the quality, not the quantity of social interaction, that best predicts loneliness.” Ditch the frenemies – you don’t need them!
6. Remind yourself that you are not alone in your loneliness
You are definitely not the only one out there feeling lonely. Despite the fact we live in an era where the internet has made communication easier than ever before, it seems we are in fact, lonelier than ever before. With this in mind, don’t be embarrassed to make the first move if you want to reconnect, or re-establish relationships with old friends. Missing someone? Text or call them, they will more likely than not, be glad to hear from you.
7. Embrace ‘me’ time
‘I’m gonna be my own best friend‘ – listen to the wise words of Beyonce and learn to enjoy spending time with YOU. When no one is available to hang out, hang out with yourself! It can be really revitalising to spend time alone. Take a bath, watch a film, read a book, listen to music, reorganise your iTunes library! How do you expect others to enjoy your company, if you can’t enjoy it yourself?
Are you feeling lonely? Join the community where you can talk with like minded people about what gets you down!