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10 Things to Do When You Feel Lonely

1. Tell people you feel lonely.

Key points

  • Loneliness can take a toll on our physical and emotional well-being.
  • Researchers have found that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
  • Strategies to combat loneliness include connecting with others online, listening to podcasts, or volunteering.

Loneliness is a universal human experience, and the isolation felt by so many during the pandemic has led to a better understanding of the importance of social connection.

Working from home, sending emails, and connecting over social media have reduced the need to be around people. But being physically around people isn’t always the solution to loneliness. It’s possible to feel crowded in a lonely room.

Loneliness isn’t just an uncomfortable emotion. It’s a serious issue that can take a toll on our physical and emotional well-being. Researchers have found that loneliness is just as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. It has also been linked to an increased risk of depression.

Whether you're living alone or surrounded by people, feeling lonely is something we all go through at some point. However, it's essential to recognize that loneliness is not a permanent state of being. You can do plenty of things to help yourself feel better. Here are 10 strategies you can try.

1. Tell people you feel lonely.

It might feel a little awkward or embarrassing to tell your friends or family that you’re feeling lonely. But there’s a good chance they’ll understand, and they may make a better effort to connect with you if they know how you’re feeling. This could lead to an invitation to an event that helps you feel less lonely. Or it might remind someone to call you a little more often.

You might feel better just saying those words out loud to someone else. They may relate to your feelings and even acknowledge that they feel lonely too.

2. Connect with others online.

Social media has become an integral part of our lives. While it can be challenging to stay away from social media, it can sometimes lead to loneliness.

However, connecting with others online can be an excellent way to combat loneliness. Whether you join a social media group or find a community forum, interacting with others online can help you feel less alone.

3. Reach out to people from your past.

If you don’t have any close friends or family you can talk to, you might reach out to people from your past. Sometimes it’s easier to reconnect with an old friend than make a new one. Try sending a message to an old friend from college or reach out to a former neighbor or that friend you've lost touch with over the years. You might find you’re able to pick up right where you left off.

4. Practice being vulnerable.

The problem might not be that you aren’t around enough people; it might be that you don’t feel connected to the people around you. When you feel like you have to fake being happy or can’t be your true yourself, you’ll feel lonelier surrounded by people than if you were alone.

Try connecting with people around you on a deeper level if you can. That may mean talking about problems, acknowledging your shortcomings, or discussing your fears. You might find that being vulnerable helps others open up to you, too, and you can understand one another better. If trying to be more open doesn’t help, you might decide the crowd you’re in isn’t a good fit for you.

5. Join a club or organization.

Whether you're into sports, politics, or art, there's probably a group out there for you. Joining a club or organization can help you meet people with similar interests and provide you with a sense of belonging.

6. Listen to podcasts.

Researchers have found that listening to podcasts helps people feel less lonely. That's one of the reasons why I started the Mentally Stronger podcast–so listeners could see that many of the struggles they deal with are universally felt yet rarely discussed. Hearing someone talk to you, even someone you've never met can help you feel connected to others.

7. Pick up a new hobby.

Trying something new can be a great way to combat loneliness. Whether cooking, painting, or learning a new language, picking up a new hobby can help you feel more engaged and less alone. It can also help you have something fun to talk about when you talk to others; striking up an engaging conversation might be key to connecting and feeling less lonely.

8. Volunteer.

Volunteering is an excellent way to get out of your head and focus on helping others. It can give you a sense of purpose and make you feel good about yourself. Plus, volunteering can expose you to new experiences and people, which can help you expand your social circle.

9. Adopt a pet.

Pets can provide companionship and help decrease feelings of loneliness. Research has shown that having a pet can lead to lower levels of depression and anxiety. If you're ready for the responsibility, adopting a dog, cat, or even a fish can be a great way to combat loneliness.

10. Seek professional help.

If you're struggling with loneliness, seeking professional help may be your best option. A therapist can provide the tools and skills to cope with your feelings and work towards a more fulfilling life.

Feeling lonely is a common experience, but it doesn't have to be permanent. By trying out different strategies like connecting with others online, practicing self-care, and volunteering, you can start to combat your feelings of loneliness. Taking steps to improve your mental health and well-being can help you lead a happier, more fulfilling life.

To find a therapist, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.


Tiwari SC. Loneliness: A disease?. Indian J Psychiatry. 2013;55(4):320-322. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.120536

Erzen E, Çikrikci Ö. The effect of loneliness on depression: A meta-analysis. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2018;64(5):427-435. doi:10.1177/0020764018776349

Tobin SJ, Guadagno. Why people listen: Motivations and outcomes of podcast listening. PLOS ONE. 2022;17(4): e0265806.

Martin, F., Bachert, K. E., Snow, L., Tu, H.-W., Belahbib, J., & Lyn, S. A. Depression, anxiety, and happiness in dog owners and potential dog owners during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. PLOS ONE. (2021). 16(12), e0260676.

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