Unchecked loneliness, whether caused by a fear of social activity, a lack of friends or a recently ended relationship, can easily lead to depression and anxiety. Though the American Psychological Association reports that married women are actually more stressed than single women, you may be feeling overwhelmed if you're newly single or struggling to engage in a social life. A concrete plan and a new mindset can help you combat your loneliness and find meaning in your life, whether you want to date again or remain single.
When a Relationship Ends
The first thing to do when you are overwhelmed by a broken relationship is to take some time for yourself, suggests the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center. Focus on the essentials and use this time to improve yourself. Simplify your routine -- attend to what's necessary, like work and childcare -- and spend your free time doing what you love. During this necessary grieving process, surround yourself with supportive friends and family. If you have been broken up with, focus on the negatives of the relationship to prevent you from dwelling on the relationship.
Dating and Rebounding
Before dating again, always take the time to overcome your personal issues from past relationships -- otherwise these issues will carry over into new ones. For example, if you are hot-tempered, practice good communication and stress relief before dating again. If you have healed and are ready to start dating again, combat loneliness by avoiding getting attached too quickly. Often, the more importance you place on an individual, the more anxiety and loneliness you will experience if the relationship doesn't work out. Try not to put anyone on a pedestal or believe that there is just one person who is "perfect" for you -- and remind yourself that all humans are flawed.
Combat loneliness on your own by finding a form of self-expression. Journaling, art, meditation, music and writing a letter to a real or imagined friend are ways to help you gain insight into the feelings behind your loneliness. Activities like cooking, knitting, reading or video games can also help to serve you when you might be unable to get together with a friend or loved one -- especially if these activities make you feel happy or empowered.
Getting Out There
To get out and meet new people, you may need to be creative. Join a professional organization, book club, gym or club involving your favorite hobby to pursue your passions and meet like-minded people in the process. If you are afraid of meeting others, determine specifically what you're afraid of. Be aware of negative self-talk. If you have thoughts like, "Nobody finds me interesting" or "I'm not attractive," these may manifest in your behavior. Immerse yourself gradually in social situations.
- American Psychological Association: Gender and Stress
- California State University Bakersfield Counseling Center: Beyond Fear of Rejection and Loneliness to Self-Confidence
- University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center: How to Cope With a Broken Relationship
- University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center: How to Deal With Loneliness
- University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center: How to Handle Fears