Humans are social animals.
Love and belonging are a serious matter. Friendship, intimacy, family, and a sense of connection are required to feel fulfilled. So much so that they are found on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as depicted below:
Being single and quarantined right now, as I’m writing this blog post amid the coronavirus pandemic, oftentimes, but not all the time, I feel lonely.
It would be great to have a partner that I can talk to and connect with in these dire times.
That’s what I’d like to say, but looking at the divorce rate during the pandemic it seems that relationships are NOT the cure for loneliness.
Of course not, to bring your problems to someone else to solve is not only irresponsible, but it’s also selfish.
Loneliness is YOUR problem. Resolve it yourself; don’t bring it to somebody else. Chances are they CAN’T even solve your problem.
As per the article here, there is an indication that most people are single and alone.
And for full transparency, as I’m writing this, I fall into the 18-34 age group with no steady partner.
ALL of my twenties have been like that. In all honesty, I did not have much to offer and I had a lot of growing up to do concerning personal development, self-help, self-confidence, and self-worth.
Wow, what a confession. I hate using the word loser on anyone, but here I am using it on myself. I was a loser back in my early to mid-twenties. But the great thing is, people can change.
You can read all about that and the lessons I’ve learned at my blog coursehack.club, where you can also subscribe to my newsletter to get extra life lessons.
The trick on how to deal with loneliness, how to overcome loneliness, how to fight loneliness, or however you want to spin it is to simply have strategies.
…And my strategy includes 6 Tips to Combat Loneliness. Let’s take a look at each of them.
How to Deal With Loneliness: 6 Tips to Combat Loneliness
1. Start Exercising
After I moved to the United States from Canada for a job, there was a time where I couldn’t work. Because I had to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) to pay taxes and stuff, get my driver’s license, open up a bank account, and get a car.
It is a hassle to move to a new country. But at least, the USA and Canada have close enough relations that it’s not as hard as if you’re moving from India to the USA, for example.
For the first month, I was a couch potato. I stayed home and watched Netflix. There was nothing else to do as I didn’t have a car right away when I moved to Birmingham Alabama and without a car, you couldn’t do much.
I was also dead broke.
If you want to learn about how to manage your personal finance, then get my free eBook Leverage here. You’ll also be sent emails with personal stories and personal finance tips from me. You’ll find out how broke I was and how I got out of that situation.
Anyways, my family back in Canada gave me about $2,000 USD when I moved to the USA. This was what I had to set myself up in the USA.
But having no friends, in a new country where I was immobile, and with nothing to do. It was depressing.
Also, I wasn’t able to exercise, and back home I would exercise every day with P90X.
Once I started work, I joined a gym, and my mood and emotional well being improved.
Whenever I would get super busy and skip the gym for 4-5 days, I would begin to get moody and emotionally unstable. My body and muscles would also ache a lot. That is until I returned to the gym again.
Why is that?
According to this article on Depression and anxiety by Mayo Clinic, “Regular exercise helps ease depression and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins that enhance your sense of well-being and taking your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.”
Loneliness is a negative thought because it leads to depression and anxiety, you can’t argue with me on this, you’ve felt this before.
And as per Psychology Today, “Exercise is well known to stimulate the body to produce endorphins and enkephalins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones which can make problems seem more manageable. The simple act of focusing on exercise can give us a break from current concerns and damaging self-talk. Further, depending on the activity, people may benefit from calming exercises, be energized, and get outside or interact with others, all of which are known to improve mood and general health.”
There you have it, from the experts, exercise allows you to release feel-good brain chemicals, which eases your sense of loneliness.
2. Start Reading
Reading is a cure-all for everything for me.
I wrote about it being one of my secret killer techniques in my post, “How to get over a heartbreak” as well.
To be honest, I only started reading like a maniac after my heartbreak, which ultimately made that heartbreak a valuable experience because, without it, I’d never have started reading.
If you’ve noticed, so far in this post, I’ve been talking about relationships, friendships, etc. Things that involve another LIVE person.
The pro about that is that they’re a real person that’s LIVING. The con is that they might not agree with all your ideas, values, and beliefs.
That’s where relationships fall short because people WILL say things that you disagree with that lead to arguments.
With books, you chose the book. You chose to read about the thoughts and ideas that are shared by the author. Most likely, you’ll agree with, more or less, everything they say simply because you chose the book.
“The ideas presented in this book can’t be wrong. I chose it!”
Your ego comes into play. This is also how the media influences thought patterns.
“This article can’t be wrong! I chose to read this article!”
It’s a one-way conversation with the author talking to you when it comes to reading a book.
But, how do you deal with loneliness by reading a book?
Whether you like it or not, even though the author isn’t there, by reading their book and being influenced by their ideas, you are forming a connection with them.
Although, it’s a one-way conversation, it’s still a conversation where there is an exchange of ideas (though, you’re not giving them any of your ideas).
The pro of reading is that it allows you to “converse” with anyone that had lived in this world. Dead or alive.
You can get an idea of what they were all about, what they did, and who they were by reading their biographies. Thereby forming a connection with them, which helps with loneliness.
How cool is it to “talk” with someone dead for 2,500 years?
The con is obviously, they are not alive or there with you, so you cannot argue or debate with them to further your ideas.
But this post is all about how to fight loneliness anyways, and this tip helps with that problem.
I started journaling after my heart was broken as described in my post “How to get over a heartbreak”. It was a way for me to jot down what I was feeling at the time as a practice to “communicate with myself”.
Seriously, I didn’t believe that this shit worked until it worked.
After every journey entry, I would feel a little better. It wasn’t that all the negative feelings were gone. It was just that I felt a little better. But sometimes, a little means a lot.
In the beginning, my journal entries were nasty entries containing some horrible words and descriptions about the girl that broke my heart.
But after reading and being open to new ideas and perspectives, it ended up being a bunch of grateful and appreciative words about her.
That’s why I keep telling people to read. It expands the mind.
Now, my journal is all about the little things I’m grateful for such as just being grateful for waking up to another day.
People die in their sleep you know. They go to bed and they never wake up. That’s how my grandma passed.
F*ck, I miss those dumplings she made for her grandchildren…
My journal is also filled with my goals and dreams and the little progress I made towards them day after day.
So, here are the steps on how to journal:
- Write down three things you’re grateful for.
- Genuinely write about what you’re feeling, what happened in your day, and/or what you’re expecting or wishing for.
It’s that simple.
Perfectionists may think they have to write a page every day. But, to be effective, all you need to do is write whatever is on your mind at that moment, which could also be difficult in and of itself.
The important thing to remember is that this is for you and no one else. No one will read your journal except for you, so write down your genuine thoughts.
I used to be the kind of person that would think that people would read my diary, which prevented me from genuinely writing out my thoughts.
“That is dishonest communication with yourself; you don’t want to do that. If you can’t be honest with yourself, how can you be honest with others?” was what I thought.
If necessary, hide your journal in a place that only you know of, so nobody else can find it.
From time to time, go back and read through your past entries and you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve grown and changed.
The last tip, since you’re reading the thoughts and ideas from your past self in your journal, you are communicating with yourself. That exercise should give you a big sense of humility for how well you’ve coped and progressed through life.
Go ahead and try this exercise and report back on its effectiveness on how to handle loneliness.
I started meditating seriously after reading The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life by Robin Sharma. It is a practice that is preached by Tom Bilyeu and Ray Dalio both very successful businessmen in their own right.
You can use an app like Headspace or Calm to guide your meditation.
Communication-wise, I would say that in meditation they are communicating with your subconscious.
As per this article by the ecoinstitute and the image below:
Meditation allows you to access your subconscious mind by activating your alpha brainwaves.
Similarly, when you sleep, you are accessing your theta brainwaves.
Have you ever had a difficult problem to solve before going to bed? Then you go to bed and dream, and then you wake up with the solution? That’s your subconscious mind working for you. During the time you’re dreaming, your brain is activating on theta brainwaves, which are the brainwaves of the subconscious mind.
So when you wake up with a solution to last night’s problem, that’s you asking questions and your subconscious mind giving you the answers.
Your subconscious mind has all the answers. Ask it stupid questions; it’ll give you stupid answers. Ask it smart questions; it’ll give you smart answers.
This infographic by Wellandgood gives us an idea of which states correlate with which brainwaves.
Lastly, meditation relaxes us and puts us in parasympathetic mode, which is the rest and relaxation mode. This is the mode where we are calm, joyful, and happy. In this state, we’re in a positive state of mind.
When we’re in fight or flight mode, or sympathetic mode, that’s when we’re in a negative state of mind. We feel anxious, scared, depressed, lonely, and all sorts of negative feelings. You do not want to be in these states for a prolonged time. Needless to say, it will cause harm and disease if left unattended.
The lesson here is to MEDITATE to put you in rest and relaxation mode.
5. Talk to People With Similar Interests
The unfortunate and fortunate thing is that our interests change over time. With that change naturally comes a change in social circles.
Oftentimes, I hear people in personal development circles say things like “my friend doesn’t believe in personal development and self-help, I have to cut them out of my life”.
That is a very toxic way of thinking.
Usually, what happens is you start talking less with people with which you don’t have common interests and you start talking more with people with which you do have common interests.
Simple as that. It’s unnecessary to burn any bridges.
For example, for several years, I was very interested in dancing – West Coast Swing specifically. Therefore, everyone that surrounded me was a dancer. Nowadays, I’m more interested in business and entrepreneurship. Therefore, most of my friends these days are entrepreneurs.
Naturally, that’s how to fight loneliness. By finding people with similar interests that you can resonate with.
6. Find Hobbies
This is like a continuation of the last part.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had different hobbies throughout my life.
It was a lot of anime and video games in high school and university. A lot of dancing during my early to late twenties. Now, a lot of business and asset building hobbies.
Throughout that progression, each hobby gave a different group of people.
Believe it or not, not a lot of people have hobbies.
There are so many workaholics in America without hobbies. All they know how to do is work.
So, what happens when they retire?
Several years after retirement they usually die if they don’t have a hobby to keep them preoccupied. Without hobbies, they don’t have a group or anyone to socialize with, which naturally leads to loneliness. Doesn’t it?
So that forces the question of how do you find hobbies?
You find hobbies by trying everything and sticking with the thing that you like the most.
It’s as easy as that.
The people who also share that hobby that you like so much ends up being part of the social group that you will likely interact with.
That’s how to deal with loneliness through hobbies.
Things just naturally fall into place, as they should.
How to Handle Loneliness. Can you Do It Now?
What do all these tips have in common?
They are all things that you can do yourself.
No longer are you going to bring your problem of loneliness to someone else, hoping they can solve that problem for you? The straight answer is they can’t.
Loneliness is something you have to resolve yourself. Bringing that into any sort of relationship is just a disaster.
It’s like asking someone to help make you happy. Nobody can do that.
The only person who will ever know you well enough is YOU and half the time you don’t even know who YOU are, let alone someone else.
The game in life is growth and progress. You’ll come to face loneliness again and again as you discover more about yourself, but hopefully, with these tips, you will learn how to fight loneliness and win EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.