How to Build Connections and Feel Less Lonely

5 steps to reduce feelings of loneliness

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Loneliness stems from dissatisfaction with our relationships with family, friends, or our greater community. You can feel lonely even when you’re surrounded by people. In all relationships, to have true meaningful connections, we need to be open, vulnerable, and authentic. Without those connections, we’re at risk of feeling lonely. But, we’re not stuck. There are steps we can take to feel less lonely.

Below are some tips for feeling less lonely: 

Recognize the cycle of loneliness.

Acknowledge your feelings of loneliness. Admitting you feel lonely isn’t easy, but the more you deny feeling lonely or ignore addressing your loneliness, the worse that feeling becomes. Statements like, “Maybe I don’t have friends because there’s something wrong with me,” denies that the feeling of loneliness may be due to a lack of connection. This type of thinking can lead to further isolation and can prevent you from seeking out more connections. 

Practice authenticity and vulnerability.

To make genuine, strong connections, be willing to show your full self, faults and all. As you let yourself be more vulnerable, you can start to strengthen old relationships and create new ones with people who make you feel comfortable. It takes constant, ongoing effort and courage to be vulnerable. It’s scary. But it’s worth it.

Seek out new, meaningful connections and build community.

Life changes, like moving to a new city or starting a new job, while exciting, can also make us feel lonely. But these changes are a great opportunity to be proactive about forming new connections. Chat with a barista or a neighbor at a dog park. It might feel intimidating to talk to a stranger, but it can also feel reassuring when we’re in a new phase of life. 

Here are a few more tips that may help you build community: 

  • Put time on the calendar. Schedule times to meet or chat with people, and follow up. Host a virtual game night, watch a show over video chat, organize a virtual crafting session, cook over Zoom, do a paint-and-sip night. Find fun activities that work with your group and make them happen!
  • Find your people. Join online or in-person groups such as sports teams, local charities, religious organizations, book clubs, or advocacy groups. It can be more difficult to meet people now than it was when you were a kid, so make an effort to put yourself out there to make these connections.
  • Engage with your coworkers outside of work. Seek out coworkers with similar interests or circumstances. Engage in internal chat channels. You may be surprised to discover the connections you can build while working remotely.
  • Practice compassion, serve others, and accept help.

Being friendly, generous, and considerate not only makes us feel good about ourselves, it makes others trust you. Acts of kindness can be simple. Celebrate a coworker’s achievement, write a letter to a friend, buy someone a cup of coffee, or bring food to a neighbor. When you serve others, you can form a bond with the person you help. 

Prioritize self-care and good mental health hygiene.

Self-care can help you overcome feelings of loneliness. Use this acronym as a reminder of good self-care: Brain M.E.D.S., or meditation, exercise, diet, and sleep. Meditation, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and the right amount of sleep are fundamental to good mental health hygiene. Practicing gratitude is a form of self-care, too. Being grateful for what you have can help you see the world from a different perspective and stop your negative cycles of thinking. 

Overcoming loneliness and forming strong relationships take time and effort. Talk to a coach to create a plan to work on strengthening your connections and building self-esteem. Lastly, know that relationships are not just about being vulnerable, they’re also meant to be enjoyed, so remember when building new connections…  have fun!!

Read Coach Neal's article on overcoming feelings of loneliness here.