How to combat loneliness: reconnect with yourself and others for a more fulfilling life

Loneliness can feel like an insurmountable challenge, a silent epidemic that touches countless lives. Yet, the path to overcoming loneliness often begins with simple, actionable steps.

Whether you're feeling a temporary sense of isolation or grappling with a more profound sense of disconnection, these strategies can help pave the way to a more connected, fulfilling life.

To start: recognize that loneliness is subjective

Your experience of loneliness is yours to define—if the way you feel is something you call lonely, then that's what you're feeling. That also means you have the power to shift your relationship to this feeling—meaning, you might not need to go out more often or make more friends to make progress with your feelings of loneliness; it might be a matter of perspective. 

It's also worth noting that there is a connected phenomenon that some folks may conflate with loneliness: I call it disconnection. Disconnection is that feeling of a lack of, well, connection to the world around you—you might feel like a stranger in your neighborhood, or you might be feeling a lack of purpose in your work or society as a whole. 

The point is that the feeling you have might not just be about social lack—you can actually feel some form of loneliness even if you are being super social. (See the video below for more on that.) 

This video is also on TikTok, if that's your flavor.

Embrace belonging to yourself

Recent studies show that we don't need to be social all the time to feel belongful—in fact, we can spend as much as 75% of our time alone and still feel like we're getting the social connection we need.

That's right—solitude can be a beautiful, healthy thing, and feeling less lonely doesn't have to mean giving that up!

Solitude gives you time to practice belonging to yourself. Belonging to yourself is a foundational step in fostering healthier relationships with others. Some things to try:

  • Self-reflection: Spend time getting to know yourself. Journaling, meditation, and mindfulness can help you understand your thoughts and feelings better.
  • Pursue interests: Engage in activities you love. Whether it's a hobby, sport, or creative endeavor, doing things that bring you joy fosters a sense of self-fulfillment.
  • Practice self-care: Prioritize your well-being. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep can significantly impact your mental health.

Learn more about belonging to yourself in this video:

You can also find this video on Tiktok.

Rekindle connections with old friends

Take the initiative to contact an old friend. A simple message or call can reignite a friendship. Take a moment right now to think: is there a dear old friend I haven't talked to in a while? Reach out to them right now and set up a call!

Gather friends for simple hangouts: Arrange a coffee date, a reading night, or a walk in the park. Face-to-face interactions can strengthen bonds more than online communication.

Find friendly places to hang out

The environment you choose to spend your time in can significantly influence your sense of connection. Here are some suggestions:

  • Cafes: Wherever you are, there's almost always a cafe not too far away with friendly baristas and welcoming vibes. Even if you just go to hang there informally, you'll get value out of being in that sort of environment. If you commit to showing up regularly, things get even better. 
  • Volunteer: Giving back to your community is one of the most powerful things you can do. Look for local charities or organizations where you can contribute—ideally, you already know someone who volunteers somewhere. That person can help you get in the door and get comfortable. Who might be able to send you in the right direction? 
  • Explore local events: Look for community events, fairs, or workshops. These gatherings are great places to meet new people and engage in shared experiences. Not sure where to find them? Search for social media accounts that post about the latest happenings in your area and check corkboards at the local hangout spots (like cafes and libraries).

Learn more about how I find great places to hang out all the time: 

@belongfulness How I find amazing places to hang out wherever I go #local #findingplaces #place #thirdplaces #cafes #hangouts ♬ vlog, chill out, calm daily life(1370843) - SUNNY HOOD STUDIO

Train your belonging muscles

Combating loneliness isn't about the number of friends you have or how often you're surrounded by people. It's about fostering meaningful connections, starting with yourself and extending to the community around you.

By embracing the importance of belonging to yourself, rekindling old friendships, and seeking out friendly places, you're taking proactive steps towards a more connected life. Remember, overcoming loneliness is about strengthening your capacity for connection. One bit at a time!