How to Feel Less Lonely: 7 Evidence-Based Ways to Reconnection
A comprehensive guide to (re-)connecting with other people and yourself
A few years ago, on a frosty winter night, my loneliness hit so bad that I curled up in front of my radiator. I wanted to replicate human warmth. I wanted to cry. I wanted to feel something.
But there was nothing.
My chest felt like an airlock that was accidentally opened in outer space, releasing scraps of joy into the vast emptiness. Not surprisingly, my radiator didn’t fix the problem. In fact, it sent me down a spiral of shame and self-loathing. Look at you, a voice in my mind hissed. What kind of loser are you? You don’t have any friends, no partner, no one you can hug. So you’re stuck with your heater. How embarrassing…
That night ended with me standing on a bridge, smoking a cigarette, movie noir style. And it was at this moment that I — a non-smoker — couldn’t even recognize myself anymore.
I felt numb.
How to Deal With Loneliness (and Why It’s So Hard)
Obviously, this wasn’t the optimal approach to feeling less lonely. But looking back, I understand why I did it.
For one thing, asking for help when you’re lonely is the hardest thing you can imagine. Loneliness is a stigmatized emotion, so strangely, we assume that asking for help will only make us look worse. For another, self-regulation shuts down when you’re lonely. That is, it gets really tough to make smart choices for yourself. You eat more junk food, drown in TV shows, or — as in my case — get a craving for cigarettes.
But ever since that incident, I’ve learned my lessons.
I’ve read and written widely about loneliness. I also had more encounters with this feeling of alienation and learned about other people’s experiences. What I needed, retrospectively, was a guide. Someone to tell that finding a way out is possible — and what that might look like.
With that in mind, here are seven evidence-based ways to feel less lonely. Some of them are quick fixes; others are part of a long-term solution. All of them are deeply rooted in research and personal…