Battling Loneliness

I’ve written before about how to finding an antidote to loneliness, but now I wanted to pass along a few ideas of my own about the subject.  I especially like to write about this topic around the holidays (ie Valentine’s Day), because I feel like it’s when many people  feel the loneliest.  Or feel like a “failure” because they maybe don’t have a romantic partner to buy them flowers and a card.  You are not alone, even though you may be feeling lonely right now.  Here are some different activities that I’ve been able to think up that can help you get to know some new friends, and maybe eventually a special someone.  Instead of viewing “Single’s Awareness Day” as something you’ve somehow failed at, take the day as a challenge to put yourself out there again.

First and most importantly, do what you love.  It sounds cheesy, but if you are out and about doing what you love, chances are you’ll meet other people who are doing what you love as well.  That’s just a piece of general advice, but here are a few more specifics:

Volunteer.  That’s right, get out and help your community.  Some great places that always need volunteers include animal shelters, local hospitals, museums, churches, community tree-planting/clean up projects, Habitat for Humanity, wildlife sanctuaries, local parks, community gardens, food pantries, homeless shelters, retirement homes, local libraries.  Find something that sounds interesting and start getting involved.  Even if it’s only for an hour or 2 a month.  Get out there and give back.  I’ve found when I’m connecting with people or places in need, and other volunteers who enjoy helping out, I feel a lot better about myself.  I feel like I have a mission in my community, and I’ve met some of my best friends by getting involved in local organizations.

Get involved in the arts community.  If you are at all interested in theater, art, ballet, etc., then start going to see shows!  There are community theater organizations, poetry slams at coffeehouses, live music all over the place, at bars, restaurants, music venues and more.  Even if it’s just you, go to an upcoming art show, join a museum as a member and start going to the different events.  The arts community is a small world, and eventually you start seeing the same people.  Familiarity makes it a lot easier to build friendships.

Become a regular somewhere.  Whether it’s a restaurant, coffee shop, bookstore, bar, wherever.  Go there on a regular basis and eventually people will start to recognize you.  You can make new friends and have interesting conversations.  This is a great way to make new connections.

If you have a dog, take them to the dog park.  You’ll meet other dog friendly people, loving pet owners, and people who just like to go outside in beautiful weather and enjoy the sunshine.

Join a gym.  Or a yoga studio.  Or a crossfit class, the mallwalkers, or just start going on a regular schedule of runs through your favorite park.  Even if you just go to a gym and do 15 min of walking on the treadmill, you’ll eventually start to recognize people, talk to people, hang out with people.  Start going to yoga workshops, meditation workshops, or any other workshops around town.  Sometimes different gyms have groups that meet up to play basketball a few times a week during lunch as well.

Take a class.  Take a class at the local university or community college.  Take something that sounds interesting.  Whether it’s formal or informal, you can meet people for study groups and get to know people who share common interests.

Join a meet-up group.  This is a great way to meet people who share common interests.  You can participate in groups that are just for social purposes, groups that like to play board games, hike, rock-climb, groups based around certain age groups, etc.

Join a religious organization.  If you’re religious, get involved in whatever religious community you believe in.  Whether it’s a synagogue, mosque, church, ashram, buddhist temple, or anything else.  Get out there and start meeting people who believe the same things as you!

Join a book club or writing group.   A lot of local libraries have book clubs, or local bookstores.  Check in the classifieds section for writing groups.  Start attending lectures at book festivals, or at a nearby university.  Expand your mind and your social network at the same time.

The point is, the possibilities to end loneliness are out there, you just have to put on your confidence pants and go take advantage of them!  It can be scary and intimidating to start tackling your loneliness, because at first you might have to go places by yourself, but what you can gain and discover in the process is completely worth it.  So go on, try something new.  Ultimately, the best advice I can give is to find something that makes you feel fulfilled, hopeful, helpful, and happy.  You’re bound to make new friends when you’ve got your own inner light shining out your eyes for all the world to see.

And hey, the worst that can happen is that you don’t like the activity you tried first.  In that case, you can just try something else.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, after all 🙂