How to stop the loneliness trap: connecting back in

If you are regularly or chronically feeling lonely, it is important to do something about it. Loneliness can become a vicious cycle that is increasingly difficult to break out of so addressing it sooner rather than later is important. As humans we are boosted with feel good chemicals such as oxytocin when we are spend time with other people, if we are alone we miss out on this benefit which helps prevent depression and stress.
When we are lonely we are more likely to think about our existing friendships and relationships more negatively. Lonely people often assume others aren’t interested in their company and anticipate that if they reach out they will be rejected. As a result, lonely people tend to turn down invitations when they get them and do not initiate requests to be social with others.
We then tend begin to behave in ways that push others away. Because when we are lonely we do not see the role we play in pushing people away, our faulty beliefs that others do not care about us or that we are socially undesirable appear to be confirmed. The less we socialise, the less we practice our social skills and the more awkward and difficult socialising becomes for us. Then when we experience a difficult or awkward moment we tend to blame it on our lack of likeability rather than our poor skills.
As you can see from all the points above about how being alone affects your wellbeing negatively,  it is very important to manage your loneliness sooner rather than later. The strategies below can help.
Top strategies that work to reduce loneliness and build connection.
The steps below are very helpful to deal with loneliness and improve social connectedness. Do them, even if you fear rejection. It is the fear of rejection that keeps you stuck in loneliness, so don’t listen to that fear talk. Give these steps a go!
1.Make a plan to socialize more. Look at ways you can meet up with people. Consider volunteering, an activity you enjoy or an internet social group such as “meet-up” which provides regular events around activities (remember groups like this exist because there are many people wanting to connect). These are all good ways to meet people. Make a list of people you haven’t seen or spoken to for a while. Try to ignore negative thoughts such as “they’re not interested” or “won’t they think it’s weird I’m contacting them”. Then proceed to step 2.
2. Reach out. Once you’ve compiled your list of friends and acquaintances, begin reaching out to them. Try for one each day. Even if they haven’t been in touch for a while, give them the benefit of the doubt. Invite them to catch-up. Remember to:
3. Be positive. in your approach and request. For example:  “How have you been? Would love to catch up with soon” is much more engaging than “Haven’t heard from you in so long, do you want to get together?” This is important whether you approach in person, phone,  via messaging or email. Consider using positive emojis when messaging or emailing to express positive feelings.
4. Say yes. Say yes to invitations and opportunities rather than make excuses. Generally people will only invite others 2-3 times if they are rejected each time and then the invitations will cease. Have a just say yes philosophy and see what happens (without taking any unnecessary risks or partaking in dangerous/ unsafe behaviour of course).
These tasks may initially seem daunting, but once you have put the effort in you will benefit from your actions. Loneliness can be painful so take action today. Get some oxytocin feel good happening!

About Nadene van der Linden

Nadene van der Linden is a clinical psychologist in private practice. She is the author of Tales from the parenting trenches. A clinical psychologist vs motherhood and Live life to the full. Your guide to feeling better sooner.
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