Loneliness – 6 Ways to Cope

The pandemic has shone a light on the fact that many of us feel lonely.  It created more isolation, fed into our fears of being with others, and when the restrictions lifted, many people feel they have lost the few connections they had.

In Canada, a recent survey found that more than half of Canadians feel lonely and isolated.  It is ironic that many of us who are feeling lonely are in fact not alone in their feelings!  However, people rarely talk about their feelings of loneliness and don’t know what to do with those feelings.  It can lead to depressions, poor physical health, and even make physical pain feel worse.

But there are ways to combat loneliness! Here are 5 ways to cope:

  1. Strengthen existing relationships.  You likely already have people in your life that you could get to know better or deepen your connection with.  These can be not just friends and family but perhaps a work colleague you enjoy talking with.  It can help to maybe start with one supportive friend or family member who you could imagine reaching out to.  Reach out and suggest going for a walk or a coffee.
  2. Meet others that share your interests. Finding people through common interests is a great way to not only enjoy the things you enjoy doing but also expand your social connections.  For example, many libraries and community centres post information about groups such as bridge clubs, book clubs, walking groups, the list goes on!  Or search online.  Meetup can be a great way to start as it can list lots of local groups from nature walks, bike riding, poetry reading, gardening, meditation – the list goes on!
  3. Adopt a pet or volunteer as a dog walker. Pets, especially dogs and cats, offer so many benefits including preventing loneliness.  And walking a dog is not only good for your health but is a great way to meet people!  Many folks on the street will stop and talk to a person walking a dog.  There are also lots of dog walking groups and dog parks to explore.
  4. Talk to strangers. Yes! Smiling at others and interacting in small ways is a great way to make a person feel more connected to their world. Research has shown that it improves our social and emotional well being. So – yes!  Say hi to that elderly person on the sidewalk.  Have a short chat with someone in a lineup.  We are all part of the community.
  5. Keep busy. If you are feeling lonely, then invest in yourself and any project you have on your to-do list.  It occupies the mind and body and can be a powerful way to break negative thinking.
  6. Talk to a counsellor. Research has found that loneliness and feelings of depression can perpetuate each other.  The lonelier you feel, the more depressed you feel and vise vera.  Sometimes just “getting out there” doesn’t fully address those feelings.  A skilled therapist can really help.  Some approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can teach you how to change your thoughts as well as your actions so the cycle can be broken.  You can learn very effective tools to get out the of the loneliness – depression rut.

Need help finding a therapist? At Waypoint Counselling Network, we provide personal assistance in being matched to the right counsellor.  Because the right counsellor means better and faster results.  Our clinical director will ask you some to determine which of our registered counsellors is the best fit for you. You can then book a free 30-minute phone consultation to meet with the counsellor before beginning counselling.  Or you can choose from our list of counsellors. All of them offer online counselling via phone or video and some offer in-person sessions in their offices.

Contact us to find out more.