Creating and maintaining a social life can be difficult. Most of us have lost friends over the years, made new ones, and lost some again. We’re busy with work and adulthood, but we still crave the social interaction that friendships provide. During transitional periods of life, it’s common to feel alone or a lack in your social life. In fact, a recent study showed that 72% (almost three quarters!) of Americans experience loneliness. The good thing about loneliness, however, is that there’s a solution to it. Make a change in your social life by trying the following five tips:
Find a cause you care about
Think about what makes your heart hurt – what in this world makes you the most upset? Maybe it’s homeless veterans, maybe it’s children of incarcerated parents, or maybe it’s the suicide rate amongst teens. Find the cause that you’re most passionate about and join an organization that seeks to make a change. You will not only feel more fulfilled by volunteering and truly making a difference, you’ll also meet other people who share this same passion. You’ll associate yourself with people who have a heart for the same things, and you’ll automatically share a deeper connection.
Stop glamorizing social media
Although social media is intended to keep people connected, it ironically leaves most of us feeling even more disconnected. When we log onto Facebook or Instagram, we’re bombarded with our “friends” highlight reels – pictures they’ve posted on their very best days. These pictures aren’t indicators of their day-to-day life, but what they want the social media world to believe their day-to-day looks like. These false perceptions can leave us feeling left out or questioning why our lives don’t look like this as well. Try taking a step back from social media. See it for what it truly is – don’t let these outlets fuel your feelings of loneliness.
Try something new
Exploring a new hobby or rediscovering an old one can help you pursue your interests. Take that art class, sign up for that tennis lesson, or join that book club you’ve had your eye on. Like finding a cause you’re passionate about, when you find a hobby you enjoy, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people. Use technology to your advantage and download a community meet up app to look for local group opportunities.
It’s great to get out and try something new with new people, but how about taking it a step further? Making the first move in any kind of relationship (friendships included!) can feel intimidating, but you’ll never know until you try. Fostering friendships with people who share your interests is rewarding, so ask a new friend to grab lunch after your meetup or coffee before your next class. Extend an olive branch and you may be surprised by how well it’s reciprocated.
Change the way you think
Oftentimes the source of our loneliness stems from the way we think about ourselves, or the way we assume others think of us. For example, we’ve all reached out to somebody to make plans, only to be turned down. But after this happens, what do you take from it? Instead of believing that they already had plans, do you just assume they made it up, so they don’t have to spend time with you? Far too many people get into a rut of loneliness by assuming and ruminating on unproductive thoughts along these lines. Instead of overthinking and worrying that people don’t like you – take their response at face value and try again.
If you’re constantly feeling alone, you can make a change to turn things around. If you don’t know where to begin or need some support in the journey, schedule some time with a counselor or therapist. In the safety of a therapeutic relationship, you can hone your communication skills. Therapy can also help you glean some personal insight that can shore up your self-esteem. When you step outside of your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised by how far small, intentional steps can take you.