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 just asking the check-out person at the supermarket how their day’s going, or by sending a text to a friend. Yep, it might feel super awkward at first, but these small interactions can help you feel more comfortable in social situations.
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, university 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?
If you’re not already a footy legend or fiend on the basketball court, that’s totally fine. There are lots of exercise groups and ‘social’ sports leagues which are aimed at beginners.
You may not be able to join an exercise or sports group at the moment, but you could start researching by doing a Google search or sending the organiser an email.
If there are people in your life you want to get to know better, going for a walk or run with someone can be a great no-pressure way to connect.
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. Give ‘yes’ a go
Sometimes when you’re in a loneliness spiral, you might start turning down opportunities to hang out without even realising it. You might have had thoughts like “that wouldn’t be for me” or “they don’t actually want me to come to that”. But if you give ‘yes’ a go, you might find yourself enjoying things a lot more than you’d think.
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 find a comfy spot to sit.
There’s value in spending time on your own as well as trying to meet people. You might find you enjoy your own company more than you think.
7. Sit with the feeling of loneliness
It might feel weird to let yourself experience the feeling of loneliness when all you want to do is get rid of it. But denying your feelings and telling yourself to get over it can make you feel even worse. When you work on accepting your feelings, you can start to feel a bit better.
You can do this by validating the emotion (e.g. ‘I’m feeling lonely, and it’s okay I feel this way’ or ‘Everyone feels this way sometimes’) and then talking to yourself like a friend (e.g. ‘I’m sorry you feel this way, but it will pass’).
8. 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.
9. 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 hanging out with a pet is a guaranteed way to meet new people.
10. 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.
Govolunteer.com.au is a great place to start looking for volunteering opportunities near you.
11. Get some support if you need it
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.