Are you digitally connected but still feeling lonely? These strategies can help.
he great irony is that even though we are increasingly "connected"—on social media, video calling, and messaging—we feel lonelier than ever. And even though we may use technology to feel more connected, it may be exactly what’s leading us to feel lonely. That’s why it’s more important than ever to use these anti-loneliness strategies.
1. Connect face-to-face
Connecting in real life may not be as easy as it once was. We often default to using our smartphones—it's easier and culturally accepted. But we can decrease our loneliness if we build stronger face-to-face connections. We do this by looking people in the eyes, listening, being mindful, and choosing not to be distracted by our phones or other technologies. Even if we must connect face-to-face over video rather than in person, we can benefit from being able to witness social cues and keeping other technologies muted.
2. Be active online
Instead of passively surfing the net or your social media, opt instead to do something that involves the active participation of other people. For example, you could play games with others, chat about something you care about, give advice on a forum, or have a video call with a friend. The more you interact with others while online, the more connected you are likely to feel.
3. Share for real online
Somewhere along the way, the word “sharing” got co-opted on social media to describe what is really just “humble bragging.” We post about cool things we did, nice meals we ate, or a fun vacation we went on—all things that we didn’t actually share with the people who are viewing our posts.
Instead of posting about things you did, reclaim the word “share” for what it really means—to give a small or large portion of what is yours to someone else. You could give advice, words of support, or even empathy, all from your smartphone. Your connections are likely to be more kind and supportive, and as a result, you’re likely to feel less lonely.
4. Capitalize on opportunities to connect with others
When you feel good about something, share it with others right away by calling or texting a friend. Or share with the people you work with. Keep in mind that the positive things that you can share don’t have to be big. You could simply have woken up on the right side of the bed and think, “Hey, I’m feeling great today.” By sharing these moments, you create small moments of savoring and connection that can help you beat loneliness.
5. Rethink how you spend your spare time
When we feel lonely, sometimes we just want to retreat into a corner and hide. Other times, our endless to-do list may leave us too exhausted to be social. But opting to be alone every night watching Netflix or playing on Facebook can really get us stuck in loneliness.
If we instead use our loneliness to motivate us to reach out to people, then we can strengthen our relationships. By opting to cope with our loneliness by seeking out social support, we create more social moments with the people in our lives who matter to us, which usually reduces our loneliness.