10 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Lonely

When you're feeling lonely, these ideas can help

Things to do if you feel lonely

Verywell / Josh Seong

Feeling lonely is a normal, human experience. You can feel lonely when you're by yourself or even when you’re in a room full of people. When you don’t feel connected with anyone or you feel like no one understands you, you might feel as though you are completely alone even if you’re around friends or family.

Causes of loneliness include life changes that lead to social isolation, like moving to a new place, grieving a death, or the end of a relationship. In some cases, loneliness is linked with mental health conditions like depression. People with low self-esteem may also tend to feel lonely if they struggle to make social connections.

While everyone feels lonely at times, being alone too much can negatively affect your physical and emotional health. Studies have found that loneliness can be just as harmful for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Loneliness is also linked with cognitive decline and the risk of developing major psychiatric disorders.

Whether you occasionally feel a little lonely when you’re at home by yourself or you experience a deep sense of loneliness that never goes away, it’s important to address loneliness in a healthy way. Here are 10 things you can do right away when you feel lonely.

Acknowledge That You Feel Lonely

Don’t waste your energy fighting your feelings or trying to suppress your emotions. Everyone feels lonely sometimes.

And feeling lonely doesn’t mean you’re a loser and it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It just means you’re human.

Studies have found that labeling your feelings can reduce the intensity of them. So simply putting a name to loneliness might help your brain make sense of how you’re feeling and instantly help you feel a little less lonely.

Develop a Plan

Sometimes you need to solve a problem. At other times, you need to solve how you feel about the problem.

Consider whether the best way to address your lonely feelings should involve solving the problem (by connecting with someone) or solving how you feel about the problem (taking care of your emotions).

If you are feeling lonely on a Friday night and you have friends or family members you could call, you might decide the best way to tackle the issue is to reach out to someone. You might find that talking on the phone helps. Or, you might invite someone to spend time with you.

If you reach out to people and no one responds, you might feel even lonelier. But, then you’ll know to tackle the problem from a different angle: Address how you feel about being lonely, rather than trying to connect with someone.

You might choose to engage in a healthy coping strategy that allows you to feel better. Drawing, knitting, or gardening are just a few examples of solitary activities that might help you deal with your loneliness in a healthy way.

Connect With People From Your Past

Sometimes it’s easier to connect with old friends than it is to make new ones. Perhaps you lost touch with your college roommate over the years. Or maybe you have a cousin that you just don’t talk to very often.

You might reach out and see how they’re doing. Talk about how you’ve missed being able to catch up and say that you’d like to reconnect.

You may find it’s easy to connect with former classmates, people from your old neighborhood, or previous co-workers because you already have things in common. Reminiscing about old times may help you connect again and you might find that you’re able to establish a relationship moving forward.

It's okay to each out to people over social media or text message to start. But try to follow up by connecting over the phone, via video chat, or in person. Connecting face-to-face might help alleviate your loneliness more than messaging.

Join a Group or Club

In addition to connecting with people from your past, you might decide to connect with new people, too. Look for community activities that might be a good fit for you. From book clubs and community service projects to hiking groups and business societies, you will likely discover there are many ways to connect with people in your area.

You might check your local newspaper or try a website like Meetup to see what is going on in your community. Attend an event and make it a priority to talk to several people. You might find that attending a few different events or joining a couple of different clubs helps you meet more people.

Read a Book

Reading a book helps you get inside the head of characters or narrators. It’ll help you understand how other people think and it can help you feel more connected.

You might want to read a book you wouldn’t normally reach for sometimes, too. Whether that means checking a self-help book out from the library or it means listening to a science-fiction audiobook, books can expand your world and help you feel a little less lonely.

Find an Online Forum

One of the many wonderful things about the internet is that you can connect with people from all over the world. You can find people with similar interests, problems, and goals with a few clicks of a button.

You might look for forums where people discuss topics that you’re interested in—from rare collections to unsolved mysteries to movies or TV shows. You might find that talking to other people about things you feel passionate about or topics you enjoy helps you feel more connected—even if you’ve never met them in person.

Learn Something New

Getting excited about something you’re learning—whether it’s a new language or a new skill—might help you feel better. It also might open up doors to meet new people.

Sign up for a cooking class or take karate. Or look for an online course you can take. Websites like Udemy offer affordable courses in subjects ranging from fitness to graphic design.

Engage in a Hobby

Creative outlets can boost your mood and help you live in the moment. That means fewer catastrophic thoughts about “being alone forever” and less dwelling on negative incidents from the past such as, “I can’t believe she said that to me.”

If you don’t have any hobbies, make it a priority to find one. Experiment with different activities, from fishing to pottery, until you discover things that you love.

Perform an Act of Kindness

Doing something nice for other people can help you feel better. It may also help you feel more connected to the community.

Whether you get involved in an official community fundraiser or do a kind deed for a neighbor, there are many acts of kindness you could perform. If you’re struggling to find something you can do, you might contact local charities, hospitals, nursing homes, or animal shelters to see how you could volunteer or offer assistance.

Get Professional Help

If you’re struggling with loneliness and you don’t know what to do, you might want to seek professional help.

Talking to a mental health professional might help you make more meaningful connections with people and it may also help you discover strategies for coping with loneliness in a healthy way.

In addition, a therapist can help you uncover any underlying causes of your loneliness—for instance if you are feeling lonely in a relationship or marriage, feeling lonely after a breakup, or if you are feeling lonely and depressed at the same time.

If depression is contributing to your loneliness, a mental health professional can suggest treatment routes such as attending cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to reframe negative thoughts and, in some cases, taking a medication—such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)—that helps treat your symptoms.

It’s also important to reach out for professional help if you’ve been dealing with your loneliness in an unhealthy way. Drinking too much, turning to food for comfort, or engaging in other unhealthy behaviors can increase your loneliness in the long-term.

Loneliness can affect the brain as well, leading to higher risks of cognitive decline, dementia, and major psychiatric disorders. So it's not only important to validate your feelings by seeking treatment, but also to prevent any potential negative effects of loneliness down the road.

Being alone too much is also linked with an increased risk of suicide. If you are experiencing suicidal ideation or behavior, it's important to seek help right away from a mental health professional.

If you or someone you care about is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

A Word From Verywell

It isn't unusual to feel lonely from time to time, but people may be experiencing such feelings more frequently now due to increased remote working and decreased face-to-face time.

Whether you cope with the occasional bout of loneliness or a chronic sense of isolation, know that you aren’t alone in feeling lonely (even though it feels that way). Exploring different ways to cope and reaching out for professional assistance can help you feel more connected.

5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Erzen E, Çikrikci Ö. The effect of loneliness on depression: A meta-analysisInt J Soc Psychiatry. 2018;64(5):427-435. doi:10.1177/0020764018776349

  2. Tiwari SC. Loneliness: A disease?Indian J Psychiatry. 2013;55(4):320-322. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.120536

  3. Spreng RN, Dimas E, Mwilambwe-Tshilobo L. et al. The default network of the human brain is associated with perceived social isolationNat Commun 2020;11:6393. doi:10.1038/s41467-020-20039-w

  4. Torre J, Lieberman M. Putting feelings into words: Affect labeling as implicit emotion regulationEmot Rev. 2018;10(2):116-124. doi:10.1177/1754073917742706

  5. Vasile C. CBT and medication in depression (review)Exp Ther Med. 2020;20(4):3513-3516. doi:10.3892/etm.2020.9014

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.