How to stop feeling lonely

Published date23 June 2022
Publication titleIrish Times: Web Edition Articles (Dublin, Ireland)
Everyone feels lonely. In or out of a relationship, in your family, with a baby, in the city, at work, at the school gate – loneliness is part of the human condition. "You can feel lonely even if you are surrounded by groups of people. You can be at a party with 10 of your best friends and still feel lonely," says psychologist Keelin O'Dwyer of online therapy platform, Fettle.ie. All of us feel lonely at some point

How do I fix it?

Loneliness feels bad, but chastising yourself or feeling shame about it doesn't help. "A huge tip I would give with loneliness is to sit with the feeling of loneliness," says O'Dwyer. "When we feel lonely, all we want to do is avoid that feeling, but when we deny our feelings, or are harsh with ourselves, telling ourselves to 'cop on', or 'get over it', it can make us feel worse," she says. Instead, try making space for the feeling. "Our emotions are valid and they are showing up for a reason," says O'Dwyer. "Validate that feeling of loneliness and then practise compassion and kind self-talk like, 'I'm feeling lonely, this sucks, I'm going to go easy on myself'."

But everyone else seems fine

Everyone else may seem to have loads of friends and appear to be doing loads of cool stuff all the time. In two clicks or fewer, someone's Instagram feed can make you feel like Norman no-mates. The curated holiday snaps of others set unrealistic expectations. "We know from reading interviews with influencers that in some of their most famous shoots, they were at their lowest," says O'Dwyer. Feel your feelings, but remind yourself that photos are not the full picture.

Start small

Saying "hello" to a colleague and asking about their weekend, going to a museum and being around others, spending time with a pet – small things can...

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