Loneliness strikes all of us at some point whether we’re single, coupled, or happily dating around. Feeling lonely is an inevitable human condition. Unfortunately, we can’t escape it. At the end of the day you may go out with people in your heart, but you’re alone. Here are 11 ways to comfort yourself when that inevitable bout of loneliness knocks you on your butt.
Call up your girls—they always know how to cheer you up. Sure, you may inevitably be alone in this world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your friends around as much as you need them. You can even make a list of favorite friends on your phone to have on speed dial when that cool bite of loneliness occurs. The right friend knows just the way to dull the ache in your chest a little bit. They may not take all your pain away, but they’ll certainly warm your heart.
Hang out with a furry friend. Humans are cool and all, but sometimes what you really need is quality time (and hugs) from a pet. If you don’t have your own pet, you can steal my trick and take a stroll to a local dog park. Some owners might be annoyed that you’re clearly only there to pet other people’s animals, but you just focus on that adorable German shepherd to get your mind off the fact that you don’t have a boyfriend to cuddle. If cats are more your style, ask a friend if you can come hang out with their cat (and them).
Do something creative. Sometimes when you’re feeling the discomfort of loneliness, all you need is a good ole distraction. Art is a great way to get your mind off of your lonely existence and onto something fun and productive. Try a new medium like watercolor, sharpie, collaging, or coloring. Anything to shift your focus!
Watch inspiring and motivational videos. Maybe there’s a topic you really like such as self-acceptance, vulnerability, or taking risks. My favorite thing to do is search TED talks to see if there are any videos on the topic I’m interested in. The cool thing about this activity is that you can even multitask while you’re doing it. You could clean or color while also getting a pick-me-up on the inspiring topic of your choice.
Blast some happy music. Music is another low-impact activity. You could do it while driving in the car or hanging out in your room. This suggestion is even backed by science! My favorite type of therapy, called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, suggests that to regulate emotions (or to change them completely ) you should listen to music that has the opposite emotional feeling as whatever feeling you’re having. So, blast that cheesy pop music or whatever else makes you smile and watch the loneliness hurt just a little less.
Act like a tourist in your own town or city. This is a fun one! If you’re feeling up to an adventure, you could make a list of some of the tourist destinations in your own city. Pick your favorites or the spots you’re dying to visit. Make a trip out of visiting a few of them in one day. I also recommend acting like a total nerd by wearing a t-shirt that says your city’s name on it. I mean, remember, you’re a tourist — a tourist who’s about to get a great distraction from their loneliness.
Get lost in a book. I bet you have books on your shelves that can’t wait to be read. Perhaps they’re collecting dust at this point! A great way to get your mind off of your lonely heart is to shift your focus to a great book. If fiction is your thing, you can get lost in someone else’s life. If you’re a sucker for nonfiction, sometimes the real world can be even crazier than fiction. So, read whatever will give your overthinking mind a rest!
Move your body. I’m careful not to tell you to exercise because a lot of people dislike exercise or have a distorted relationship with it as a result of diet culture. Instead, I will say move your body in a way that feels good for you. This may mean dancing around your room, going for a bike ride, or taking a simple stroll through your neighborhood. Don’t even worry about how many calories you’re burning or if it’s a good enough workout, just focus on how you feel and I promise it’ll lift some of your loneliness.
Make a gratitude list. Okay, science also backs up this suggestion. Gratitude is immensely useful. According to Happify, “Research by.. Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal—regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful—can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.” Make a short gratitude list before bed or first thing in the morning. You’ll surely see some relief.
Help someone else. A sure-fire way to get your lonely mind off of yourself and onto someone else is by offering a helping hand. It’s a huge suggestion when people are trying to get sober in 12 step communities. When all we want to do is think about ourselves, helping someone else pulls us out of our little bubble. Plus, we may even make a friend in the process.
Get a therapist. I’d be amiss if I didn’t include this suggestion. Sometimes loneliness is really depression or another mood disorder. Even if it is as simple as the loneliness of the human condition, there’s no shame in having a therapist. Some of the most successful people point to their therapist’s as a reason they’re afloat. If loneliness is becoming particularly troublesome for you, don’t be afraid to ask for some extra help.