Everyone goes through moments or times in life where they feel lonely and disconnected. If this feeling of loneliness persists for weeks, months, or even longer, it's time to do something about it. Long-term loneliness can suck the joy out of life and has even been linked to health problems. Here are three things to try when experiencing loneliness on a long-term basis:
Counseling can help you unpack and process life events in your past that may be causing you to retreat into yourself instead of forming meaningful connections and relationships. Loneliness can be linked to other issues, such as low self esteem or difficulty communicating, which can also be addressed in your counseling sessions. In addition, chronic loneliness probably means you don't have many opportunities to truly vent and talk things through with someone, so your counselor can serve as an empathetic sounding board who also gives actionable advice.
Find a Way to Volunteer
Volunteering in your community can help alleviate your feelings of loneliness in a few different ways. You will meet other volunteers as well as members of your community through volunteering, in a low pressure setting where everyone is focused on a common mission. This can be a great way to make friends, but even if that isn't the result of volunteering, just interacting with people in a meaningful way will make you feel better.
Volunteering is also great at helping give you perspective and focus on something other than your feelings of loneliness. You have many options for where to volunteer, including mentoring teens, volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, reading to the elderly, or volunteering at an animal shelter.
Challenge Yourself to Reach Out
Like anything else, loneliness can become a habit over time, and it may take practice to break it. It may be helpful to set challenges for yourself to reach out to old friends (even those in other cities) and family members, as well as new connections on a regular basis. You can start out small, by telling yourself you will call or email three people per week. Once that becomes natural, you can try adding new connections each month by joining meet up groups or taking classes centered around a hobby or interest.
By following these tips, you will be doing something powerful for your well-being and mental health, and will soon have your persistent loneliness under control.