How to make loneliness less uncomfortable

Loneliness is not a pleasant feeling. No matter how hard you try, you can’t completely avoid it. But there are some ways to make it less uncomfortable.

You can do this by accepting it. But how can you accept such an unpleasant feeling? Even loneliness can be good for something (still unpleasant, but good).

The benefits of loneliness are very similar to those of depression.

Many things depend on our point of view. I’ve already mentioned how can you look at the sentence “Nobody cares“. You can be sad about it because you focus on the people you’d want to care about you but they just don’t. Or being anxious, because you’re focused on what people might think of you. On the other hand, you can focus on how invisible you actually are and how free you are to do whatever you want to do.

The same goes with loneliness. It can become unbearable if you focus on the feeling of being all alone in the whole world. I know, you can feel like this even when you’re surrounded by many people or people you love the most.
On the other hand, you can acknowledge and accept your feelings without judging and just let them be. Nothing lasts forever and even this horrible loneliness will pass away eventually.

Some practical tips for coping with loneliness

  • You can reach out for more human (or other) contact
  • You can embrace your alone time to the fullest by doing things you don’t feel like doing when other people are around
  • Focus on others instead of yourself – being in touch with your feelings is great, but if it gets overwhelming, some short-term distractions work better.
  • Write a journal and let go of some thoughts
  • Learn to comfort yourself, find out what you like and need
  • Don’t wait until you get overwhelmed and make some plans about coping with loneliness in times when you feel better
  • Talk to a therapist or join a support group (you can even do it online)

Is there anything you like to do only when you’re alone? Do you think you can use this in the moments when you feel lonely?

Further reading:

25 thoughts on “How to make loneliness less uncomfortable

  1. Dan Reply

    This is such a good post. I struggle with loneliness and isolation caused by my conditions and it can be overwhelming at times. Mostly I like to try and take myself out of this world and into fictional ones via books or games mostly. When I can do that and immerse myself, suddenly the isolation doesnt feel quite so lonely. I shall remember this post more often when I’m struggling.

  2. SupaStrong Reply

    And when you never get any alone time.. you crave a little loneliness. All a matter of perspective i guess

  3. Nik Reply

    I love alone time, reading, just chilling out. Loneliness only strikes when I’m around people & feeling left out.

  4. the seeker Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful post. Many people struggle with loneliness, and when you are lonely, it can be hard to find people who can truly empathise, because the people around you may be immersed in their busy social life and unable to understand the loneliness you are suffering. I think it is important to differentiate between being alone and loneliness. Being alone is not necessarily painful – it can be enjoyable, as some commenters point out. Loneliness is the painful feeling of not being able to connect to people to satisfy our need for feeling understood and for feeling as part of a community. You can spend lots of time with people and still feel lonely, if there is no connection.

    I have struggled with loneliness quite a lot, and sometimes it felt almost like physical pain. For me, meditation usually helps – I have the impression that I can move through the loneliness faster if I face it fully, in meditation.
    I think loneliness can be a great teacher. When we are alone, there is no way to escape our minds, we have to face ourselves. Even if it is painful, enduring loneliness can be a useful exercise. It helps to really think about what we want, and prevents us from wasting our lives in mindless activity. It is not surprising that enduring loneliness is a spiritual practice in many traditions, in Buddhism for example.

    I like how Terry Pratchett expressed the spiritual side of loneliness in one of his Discworld novels, “Small Gods”. In the book, the characters have to wander through a desert, alone, after they die. The main antagonist, a toxic narcissist, is unable to do that. He spent his whole life controlling and abusing people; without anyone to control, his coping mechanisms fail, and he has to face the terror of his mind. He spends an eternity waiting, unable to move forward, until a compassionate character comes along to walk with him.

    • Maja Reply

      Thank you for your insights, Stefan. You’ve pointed out very well the difference about being alone or lonely. Loneliness indeed is a great teacher.
      I find mindfulness quite effective too, it’s just that I need a constant reminder for doing it. 🙂

  5. The Freethinker Reply

    Being alone can be very beneficial. But honestly, most people do not like to feel lonely, because it can make the mind to wander, flooding us with painful thoughts.

  6. MAM! Reply

    Loneliness can indeed feel like a physical pain. It used to hit me on Sunday afternoons. I coped by sleeping away my weekends. Nowadays, even though I have my family around me, I still dread a Sunday!

  7. howard johnson Reply

    Thanks for the like.
    Some thoughts let go of from an old man on practical tips, point one: reaching out doesn’t work if…
    You can’t take being rejected (let’s say 100 times) before being accepted once because 1) you don’t read others well enough to always make good choices, 2) you lie to them (consciously or not) about yourself to get them to like you—you will be found out or worn down by this.
    Or 3) you age out of it. When you are young, the sheer for-its-own-sake charm of interacting with others overcomes the rejections and deceptions. Later, at about age 30, that shiny surface has worn off and the base metal of society shows through.
    Now, others—you and me too, we are other to others—will only reach back if there is something in it for them. They will reach back for permission if we are powerful, for proximity if we are famous and for profit if we have monetizable skills or just cash to spend.
    Still later, at about age 60, when, even if you had them, you will run out of power, fame, useful skills and money. No one will return your calls. You have become a nobody twice over. First for who you are in favor of what you have, then again when you no longer have anything anyone wants.
    Some of the other points are good advice: Making art-like objects, emailing old friends (funny that friends you made when you were young are still there while the ones made later aren’t) work wonders; journaling and its sibling blogging are almost as good. Of course, there is family, they almost always will reach back.

  8. awood10816 Reply

    Such a “simple” but great post. I love the way that what you choose to put down engages others so easily and starts a dialogue.

  9. David Emerson Reply

    Insightful words, I appreciate that. I often find myself irritated when around people, but craving those very same people’s company when left to wander my own thoughts by myself. I used to have a zone in which I was somewhat content in. The older I get, the less frequently I find myself in that zone. I find myself struggling to remember what content feels like lately, but I think you bring up a useful notion here: “nobody cares” can be interpreted in a much more comforting way than I have taken to heart. Thanks.

  10. Geri Lawhon Reply

    I love that loneliness should be embraced as a time to do those things you do alone. Wonderful ideas. Thanks for this post.

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