Have you ever been in a crowded room and still felt lonely? The truth is, you can feel lonely anywhere, anytime – no matter how many people are physically around you. But if you’re sick of feeling solo and are keen to get connected, we’ve put together a guide to help make that happen.
1. Start with small talk
Small talk gets a bad wrap, but it’s actually a big part of helping break the ice. Try making small talk with someone on your bus, or by sending a text to a friend. Yep, it might feel super awkward at first, but these small interactions can help you feel less alone and isolated.
2. Hang out with like-minded people
What are you into – video games, music, books? Joining a club is an awesome way to meet and connect with like-minded people.
Check out your school or local community centre to see if they run any groups you might vibe on.
Another option is Meetup. It brings together people who enjoy similar things or activities, whether that be fitness, photography, tech or, well … pretty much anything. And it’s free!
3. Get active
Okay, so exercise is great for keeping you well and less stressed, but have you thought about it as a way to meet new people?
The good thing about sport is that it’s regular. It might take a while, but you can build up relationships over time and there’s not as much pressure as a one-time meeting. You could join an exercise class, take up a competitive sport or head to your local gym. Or, if you have a friend who’s interested, consider asking them to meet up for a walk or run.
4. Jump online
Whether you’re playing someone in your favourite game, or simply connecting in forums with like-minded people, chatting online is a great way to battle loneliness. You can take the leap from the comfort of your own computer while working on the skills that will help you feel less lonely in the long run.
While sometimes it can be a mission to dodge the trolls and haters, a little searching should uncover an online haven filled with your kind of crew.
The ReachOut Forums are a supportive, safe and anonymous space where people care about what’s happening for you, because they’ve been there, too. Check them out here.
5. Pump up the plans
Sometimes when you’re in a loneliness spiral, you might start turning down opportunities to hang out without even realising it. Challenge yourself to get out and socialise at least once a week. Plan at least one regular weekly social activity, and organise your time so that you don’t forget it.
6.Back yourself to fly solo
Don’t feel comfortable asking someone out for a hang? That’s cool. Grab a good book or even just your Reddit feed, and head to a local spot. Find somewhere you're comfortable chilling out for an hour – it might be a local cafe, footy field, a shopping centre or the nearest library. The first few times can feel a little awkward and you might even worry that people are judging you – but we promise they're not. A regular hang spot can also help you to meet new people. If you hit up the same place often enough, you’ll start to notice some familiar faces, and might even make a few mates.
7. Write it down
Writing is a great way to battle loneliness, as it helps you to process your emotions and get a clearer idea of where your head's at.
Whether it’s scribbling thoughts in a notebook, jotting down lyrics, or collecting what’s on your mind and downloading it to a Word doc, writing is a useful way to deal with feelings of isolation. You could try a journaling app such as Day One.
8. Hang out with some non-humans
Animals are great at making us feel connected and cared for. Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and ease loneliness. If you’re not ready for the responsibility of owning a pet, you could always get into pet minding.
Ask your neighbours and friends if they have a dog you could take for a walk occasionally, or a cat you could come over to visit and pet. If all else fails, head to a dog park! Added bonus, everyone loves animals, so kicking it with a pet is a guaranteed way to meet new people.
9. Do some volunteering
When you’re feeling isolated, volunteering helps to get you out into the world and connects you with the community around you. There are stacks of charities that need volunteers. Try local nursing homes, childcare centres, or shops like Vinnies.
Govolunteer.com.au is a great place to start looking for volunteering opportunities near you.
10. Get some support
If you’ve tried a couple of these steps and are still feeling lonely, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. If you need it, your GP can set you up with a mental health plan that will help you to access counselling or visit a psychologist. It’s okay to get the support you need.
Don’t forget: everyone has times when they feel lonely. Taking even just a few of the steps above can help reduce your isolation and should help you start to feel better.
What can I do now?
- Here are a gazillion ways to make new friends.
- Listen to how these young guys talk about how they cope with loneliness.
- Jump onto the ReachOut forums and connect to other young people.