“I’m so lonely:” How to build meaningful social connections
As social beings, we thrive on interactions with others. When we feel like we are not getting enough of that (or if we feel like the quality of these interactions are not there), it can have a variety of physical and emotional repercussions. While loneliness is something that can impact our daily lives, there are ways to overcome these feelings and lead a more connected life. If you’re feeling lonely, here is some further insight into loneliness and how you can build more meaningful social connections.
Why do we feel lonely?
Loneliness has a number of potential causes. Some people may feel lonely because they have recently gone through a major life change, such as experiencing the loss of a loved one or moving to a new location. However, others may feel lonely because they do not have the resources that they need to go out and meet friends. Whether these are emotional resources, mental resources, or financial resources, any lack of ability can make it hard for some to go out and make or maintain relationships. For others, they may have relationships that do not meet their needs, which can be just as difficult to deal with.
There have also been some theories surrounding technology and social media in the role of loneliness. For some people who feel lonely, seeing the lives of others online can make them feel like they are not doing enough on their own. Besides feeling bad about your own accomplishments, online relationships may leave you feeling like you are not forming relationships with substance. If you’re feeling lonely, this can be another major contributor.
If you find yourself saying, “I’m so lonely,” ask yourself, where does it come from? Knowing where your feelings of loneliness stem from may help you to figure out which areas you will need to focus on as you move forward.
If you are unable to determine the origin of these issues, there is still hope for you. Consider assessing your different agents of socialization in your life, such as work, school, family, religion, or the community. Asking yourself, “what kind of relationships do I want” in these different aspects of my life. Then choose one to focus on and move towards as a goal.
How does loneliness impact our health?
While loneliness may not sound like it could have a major impact on our health and well-being, the true effects of loneliness can actually cause problems for both our mental and our physical health. Some of the health complications of loneliness include:
Difficulty maintaining focus and concentration
Issues with the immune system
Problems with cardiovascular health
Decreased interest in self-care and increased unhealthy behaviors
Now, it is important to remember that being alone and feeling lonely are two different things. Many people can spend time on their own and not feel lonely while they do so. However, others can feel lonely on their own and even in a crowd. This issue isn’t necessarily being on your own, but not feeling like you are getting the interaction that you need from others.
While feeling alone can be an isolating experience, there are ways to overcome these feelings and begin to form satisfying relationships with those around us. But where can we begin?
How you can build meaningful social connections
Even though there may not be one singular cause for loneliness, there are plenty of ways that you can begin conquering these feelings and building a more satisfying social life. Let’s take a look at some of these helpful tips and how you can begin incorporating them into your own life.
1. Put yourself in public places where you are bound to meet others
Jumping headfirst into dealing with these feelings of loneliness can be quite scary for those who are not accustomed to interacting with others. Rather than putting yourself in a situation where you may not feel comfortable yet, start by going out into the world where you may encounter others. Simply having the opportunity to be around, people may make you feel less lonely, and you never know if you are going to run into a new friend when a conversation with another person starts. Although taking the first steps towards meeting new people may not be easy for everyone, working towards building new relationships is certainly worth it.
2. Engage in group activities with others who are doing the same things you love
The issue with venturing out into the world and looking to meet friends is that we often don’t have a conversation starter (or know whether or not we have the same interests). These can both be made easier by seeking out group events and opportunities where you can engage in activities that you love with others. Although you may not know anyone in the group, you do know that you all love the same activity, which can be a great window of opportunity to develop long-lasting friendships. If there is something that you love doing, consider finding a way to do it with others. If there are few opportunities, you may even want to end up starting a group of your own.
3. Start getting to really know your friends and family
Feeling like you are lonely when you are surrounded by people can be a hard experience to navigate. While there may be a number of reasons for this feeling, it could be that you do not feel close enough to anyone in your circle or that you are not receiving enough attention with them. Rather than allowing the relationship to remain in its current status, try figuring out how you can develop a closer bond with those around you. This may take some time, but the more time and information that you share with each other (good or bad), the closer you can feel to them. Create opportunities for these things to grow, and you may be surprised by which direction they take.
4. Develop a better relationship with yourself
A lot of lonely people forget one big thing; even if you do not feel like you are close to others, you can always be closer to yourself. Working on your personal relationship may help you to overcome some of the feelings that you are experiencing when you find yourself on your own (or when you don’t feel confident enough with others). Take some time to dive deeper into your own thoughts, beliefs, likes, dislikes, opinions, and other aspects of yourself. You can do this by journaling regularly, looking for activities that cause you to look deeper within yourself, or even by meditating and allow your thoughts to pass by. You should also start working on developing your self-esteem so that you can improve the way that you perceive yourself on your own and in your interactions with others. Remember, our relationship with ourselves is often the most important, and it can play a big role in our relationship with others.
5. Take the initiative in making plans with others
If you’re feeling lonely, you don’t have to wait for others to invite you out if you want to spend time with people that you care about. In fact, showing initiative may show the other person that you do care about them and your relationship. Next time you feel lonely, and want to spend time with another person, ask those around you if they would like to do something during the week. This will help you start getting out there more and building the relationships that will help you feel less lonely. In our modern age, there are also many apps to help you connect with people who also are trying to meet others. There are also specific apps that seniors can use to meet new people.
Of course, it’s important to note that these are some suggestions to potentially improve feelings of loneliness by fixing it on the outside. We still must treat the internal factors of loneliness that have the potential to make you feel lonely even when you are in the presence of others. Luckily, when you are feeling lonely, you are never truly alone as the support o.
Feeling lonely? You may want to seek out help
If you are unable to cope with or overcome your feelings of loneliness, you can always consider therapy to help you with feelings. Besides being able to connect with someone who is truly invested in your well-being, therapy can help you figure out why you may be feeling lonely and provide you with solutions that can help you both now and in the future.
If you do believe that therapy can benefit you, you can look online to see what options you have in your area. There are often plenty of therapists in any given town or city. However, some people may not have the same number of options as others. Additionally, traditional therapy can come with certain disadvantages, such as having to find time to squeeze in appointments or traveling to get to the office. If you are looking for something better suited for you, one option to consider is online therapy.
For example, BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that is designed for those who want counseling to be more convenient and affordable. Whether you can’t find the right counselor, are having scheduling problems, or live too far away from a therapist, you can find the right therapist for you on BetterHelp. You may access BetterHelp from the comfort of your own home.
Feeling lonely can be a difficult feeling to cope with. However, there are ways to overcome this feeling. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I’m so lonely,” use the tips above to start working toward more meaningful connections in your life.**