8 Things to Do When You Feel Lonely
Let’s take it there for a second, okay?
I want to get pretty vulnerable with you guys and share that lately (yes, since Mercury Retrograde happened) I’ve been feeling a bit lonely, a tad blue if you will. The thunderstorms and rain here in New York aren’t helping, either.
And (I see the irony in what I’m about to say) I’m not alone in this!
(Future blog post coming about my friends and family advice on loneliness)
There has been research proving that - and this is a bit of an exaggerated title, but has truth in it - there is an epidemic of loneliness in America. Ranging from feeling lonely when you’re alone, or feeling lonely when you’re in a crowd, nearly half of Americans today say that they are lonely.
And something that really grinds my gears is the “advice” out there that I see when I google “tips to not feel lonely”. The advice is horrible.
“Get a roommate” or “adopt a dog” or “start dating” are all given as suggestions on these listicle articles.
Those are things that require months of time, and in the case of adopting an entire animal, that’s a decade long (at least) of commitment. That’s insane. You can’t just buy a dog on a whim because you’re lonely on a Friday night!
So I decided to give some tips of my own - Shannon tested and approved. For the people who can’t just “call up a friend” because they currently don’t have any, or the people who can’t “reach out to family” because they don’t speak to their family, or the people who have tried all the bullshit advice, and want some tips that work.
Let’s get into it.
1. Go see a move in the theatre
This advice was given to me by my mother after a break-up I had last year, and it was wonderful. This is great advice for if your friends are all out of town, or you moved to a new city where you don’t know anyone, etc.
Head out of the house, and take yourself on a date to the cinema. I suggest seeing a comedy movie or thriller or action movie here (romantic ones might have the opposite effect).
There’s something about being in a theatre, surrounded by people who are sharing the same emotions at the same time as you – that feels really comforting in a private, yet friendly way. I’m a big fan of solo movie time.
2. Engage in random small talk
Trust me, I’m not one to usually give out advice in favor of small talk. Most of the time, small talk ranks high on my ‘pet peeve’ list.
But when you’re feeling lonely, or a bit isolated and in your shell – I find that small talk actually can be an incredible force of healing.
Something as simple as going out to grab a coffee, and asking the person at the register “what drink here is your favorite” or “how is your day going so far?” is all it takes. Smile at a few people on your walk to and from there. Pop into a store just to browse, and when someone in the store asks you if you need any help, let them know how nice you think the store is and ask them a question about how long they’ve been open, or something like that.
Whenever I do that, I head back into my apartment with a lighter step, and generally feel better all around.
3. Frame the lonely feeling as an old friend who dropped by uninvited
I found this piece of advice on a few listicles a couple of months back, and it really helped me so I want to share it here.
This advice basically suggests treating your feeling of loneliness as an old friend and saying something like, “Oh, hi loneliness. I see that you just came to visit for a bit.”
The whole idea around this is to treat your negative feeling with a positive one. When I’m feeling lonely I can easily slip into the trap of going, “God, Shannon, no one is texting you. And no one wants to be around you. You are lonely. You are so, so lonely.”
Surprisingly enough, it makes me feel worse, haha.
But framing my feelings in my head as “oh hey, this loneliness friend is visiting for a bit” makes me treat the problem with love, and compassion, and generally is just healthier. Also the feeling is just that – it’s a visiting feeling. Not here to stay.
P.S. I sometimes lucid dream during nightmares and this always ends the nightmare. Whenever I see a demon/monster, I try to hug them in the dream, and the nightmare immediately ends. I really think there’s something to it!
4. Cook an intricate meal while you listen to a podcast.
I think a great deal of loneliness is correlated with boredom, or a lack of activity. But finding a specific activity to do when you’re lonely is always a fine line. You don’t want to do chores or errands. But watching YouTube or going on social media can sometimes make you feel even lonelier.
After years of trial and error, I found the perfect activity.
Cooking an intricate meal (something that includes peeling, chopping, etc) while listening to a podcast is the perfect antidote to loneliness. You have the voices of people talking to you, while keeping your mind engaged with and focused on an activity that needs a good amount of concentration. This is always a great way to put your lonely feelings at bay.
5. Twitch streaming
Something about watching people online live is always comforting in a way that pre-recorded things never are.
I sometimes go on Twitch and watch people who are streaming when I feel lonely. And I don’t even play Fortnite haha. So I really don’t know why I do this, I just know that it works.
You can listen to and watch the gamers/person who is streaming, and also read the live chat. It makes me feel really good to know that there are currently hundreds of other people who are just chilling, alone in their apartment.
Usually when we’re feeling lonely, we pull up Instagram and see scores of people out and about. The truth of the matter is that everyone spends a lot of time during the week being at home, not doing much. Twitch is a great reminder of that!
6. Focus on making your home space an incredible place to be
Similar to treating loneliness as an old friend, this tip is all about perspective and framing.
First of all, clean your room/apartment/house. Make it smell nice. Open up the windows. Light a candle. In fact, take a quick trip to Target or Homegoods (I freaking love Homegoods) and get a succulent and oil diffuser, and maybe some new throw pillows.
Set up your new goodies at home, with the place sparkling clean and the windows blowing fresh air in. This always helps me go into a better headspace, because instead of resorting to being at home because I don’t have anything else to do…I now get to be at home, enjoying the space I created. It sounds hippie-dippie, but it really does work.
7. Get high and make up a game
First things first, you want this to be a sativa high. Indica will bring you down if you’re already feeling lonely.
Then put away all forms of technology, and make up a game. I did this literally on Friday after work. My roommate was out, no one was texting me back, so I took a few hits from my pen and shut my laptop.
10 minutes later, I had lined up stuffed animals on my bed (and put wigs on a few of them) and was using an exercise stick to try and hit socks like a baseball at the stuffed animals, and knock them down. Then I tried on the wigs. Then I tried to give the wigs some bangs.
Look around at the things you have in your room, and make up a game with rules using them – and don’t do anything in front of a screen. See if you feel better after a half hour of that. You probably will.
8. Get a massage (or even a manicure or pedicure)
Think about it – how often are you touched in a day? (I only want single people answering this!!!)
Odds are, not much. Except my best friend Bridget, who does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu would probably answer differently. Sometimes I walk by Jiu Jitsu places in the city and it always looks like a big, clothed orgy in there.
But for us single folk that don’t do BJJ, you don’t get touched that often. A handshake or hug here or there. That’s not nearly enough!
Go out and get a massage, or any spa treatment. We need human, physical contact, and this helps both your loneliness, as well as those pesky knots in your neck.
So there you have my personal, tried and true methods to keep loneliness at bay. Also if you’re ever looking for someone to reach out to, just contact me here! I love hearing from readers, and I swear I do more than talk about nose jobs and people I swipe left on. I promise.
Off to take another pen hit and play with my socks,