3 Reasons and 11 Ways To Overcome Loneliness

Feeling close to family and friends is one of the greatest joys in life. If you want to feel more connected and strengthen your relationships, try these practical steps for banishing loneliness.

Advantages of Becoming More Connected

1. Deepen your happiness. Over the years, many studies have confirmed that our relationships influence our happiness more than anything we can buy. Everyone wants to feel loved and appreciated, and contributing to the wellbeing of others helps build self-esteem as well.

2. Improve your health. Social connections also protect physical health. Statistically, your chances of dying in the next year are cut in half just by joining a group, according to Dr. Robert D. Putnam who wrote the book on "Bowling Alone."

3. Accomplish more. You're much more effective when you join forces with others. Families rely on teamwork and your support systems make you more resilient during tough times.

Change Your Thinking

1. Learn to be brave. It's natural to worry about being rejected, but you'll enjoy life more if you take risks. Invite a new co-worker out to lunch or call up a relative you haven't talked to in a while.

2. Focus on others. Mingling is much easier when you concentrate on how you can help others. If you have a tendency to become self-conscious or speak to yourself harshly, distract yourself by giving others your full attention.

3. Talk with your doctor. If you suffer from depression or social phobias, you may need some additional help. Your physician can advise you on effective treatments available today.

Take Action

1. Start with small steps. Guarantee your success by beginning where you feel comfortable. Kids and dogs usually love any extra attention they can get. Every community has organizations that welcome volunteers.

2. Limit your screen time. Turn off the TV and internet so you can spend more time talking with people face to face. Practice your conversation skills. Make it a habit to take a walk together after dinner.

3. Think in terms of quality. One or two close friendships can be worth much more than hundreds of Facebook friends you barely know. Measure your support network by its quality.

4. Ask for what you need. If you feel distant from the people around you, try letting them know specifically what you would like to do to feel more bonded. Your partner may be willing to say, "I love you" more often when they know that it's important to you.

5. Join a club. Engagement with your community can bring more meaning to your life. Sharing a common interest with others also makes it easier to get to know each other. Sign up for a pottery class or join the summer softball league at your office.

6. Cultivate your spiritual side. Church services are an important part of many people's lives. For others, spiritual connections may arise through getting back to nature or listening to chamber music.

7. Become more approachable. While you're working up the courage to talk to new people, you can look for ways to make it easier for them to reach out to you. If you think happy thoughts and regard others with compassion, you will appear friendlier.

8. Find the right balance for you. Solitude is different from loneliness. You may value having some regular quiet time to spark your creativity or practice meditation.

By making the effort to reach out to others, you can reduce your own loneliness and help everyone around you feel more connected. It's easy to feel isolated in a world where we spend so much time online and families often live far apart. However, to make a friend you must first reach out and become one.

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