What to do when feeling lonely: 11 helpful tips

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 isolated and are keen to get connected, we’ve put together a guide to help make that happen.

This can help if:

  • You want to know how to stop feeling lonely as much as you do

  • You’re looking for ways of how to feel less lonely when surrounded by others

  • You want to find ways of how to feel happy when alone.

1. Start with small talk to shake off the lonely feelings

Small talk gets a bad rap, 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. Sweat off the lonely feelings by doing something 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.

Not super into sports or exercise? Check out these ways to exercise that don’t feel like exercise for some extra inspiration.

4. Jump online if you’re feeling isolated

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 OnlineCommunity is 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 feeling lonely, 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. Learn how to be happy when you’re alone

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.

This list of ways to chill for cheap is a great starting place when you’re looking for ideas for some wholesome solo time.

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 a little lonely sometimes’) and then talking to yourself like a friend (e.g. ‘I’m sorry you feel this way, but it will pass’).

8. Write your feelings 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 even try a journaling app for when you’re feeling lonely 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. Find 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.

You could also chat with a peer worker using ReachOut PeerChat. Our peer workers have had experience with mental health challenges as young people. They are on their own journey to recovery and use their experience to support others. All peer workers have undergone ReachOut training and have expertise in facilitating safe, respectful, non-judgmental conversations. Book a free, text-based session with PeerChat here.

To find local groups, organisations and services that can help you connect with others, you could also try searching the Ending Loneliness Directory online.

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 help you start to feel better.

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