What You Can Do About Loneliness

Note: this is the second of a two-part series.

Everyone has lonely times.  The loneliness may last for a few hours, a few days, a few months—or you may feel as if you have always been lonely.  Loneliness forever desires contact, and is always defined with feelings of sadness.

The following is a collection of suggestions that are designed to help you reduce feelings of loneliness:

  • Where can you get ideas on places to go and meet other people?  Ask friends, family members, acquaintances, co-workers and health care professionals for ideas.  Also, refer to listings in local newspapers.  In addition, radio stations often feature listings of community events.  Also, various agencies in your community may be able to give you referrals, such as the local senior center, a volunteer co-coordinating agency, the Chamber of Commerce, health care agencies, colleges and adult education programs.
  • Are there some places you have enjoyed going to in the past but not longer go—places you could go again?
  • The hardest thing about going out and doing (ital)anything(ital) is going the first time.  You might say to yourself “That would be a fun or interesting thing to do,” but then you don’t follow through and go to the event.  Push through those hard feelings and go.
  • Most communities offer a wide variety of interesting events and activities, such as:  sporting events (spectator or participant); concerts; book signings; political party meetings; the gym; attend or participate in a play; art galleries; shows and museums; special interest groups; activists groups working on specific issues; church; walking tours.
  • Classes.  Isn’t there something you’d like to learn?  Take a class.  Study a foreign language, computer science, bird watching, knitting, woodcarving, literature, pottery or whatever interests you.  What classes might you enjoy?
  • Volunteering.  There are many agencies that could use your help.  Inquire at churches, schools, hospitals, youth agencies, soup kitchens, the Red Cross, non-profit organizations, libraries, community programs, Big Sister or Big Brother programs and hospice programs.   Many communities have agencies that organize volunteers and would be a good resource if you were looking for the right place to volunteer.  Some newspapers also run listings of volunteer opportunities.
  • Support groups.  Joining a support group is a great way to connect with others who have interests and issues similar to yours—people who might become friends.  If you can’t find a support group that meets your needs, you may want to start one of your own.
  • Reach out to establish new friendships by inviting your acquaintances to join you at a café for coffee or lunch.  What are some other ideas you have on how you could turn an acquaintance into a friend?
  • Make it a point to treat yourself well every day.  Before you go to bed each night, write down how you treated yourself well during the day.
  • Talk to people wherever you are.  Engage in small talk wherever you happen to be—restaurants, supermarket lines, on the bus, etc.
  • Spend some time in the local café or coffee shop.  Pick one that is friendly, and read a book you bring along.
  • Write in your journal.
  • Do something that needs to be done.  Take care of a long-deferred task, and then luxuriate in the feelings of having completed it.
  • Exercise.  Physical exertion of any kind will make you feel better.

Source:  The Loneliness Book by Mary Ellen Copeland (New Harbinger, 2000).

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