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  • Writer's pictureRMTC Team

Three Therapist-Approved Tips for Coping with Loneliness


Lonely man

Everyone feels lonely sometimes, but when loneliness shifts from a feeling to a state of being, it’s time to fight back! That’s why we’re sharing 3 therapist-approved tips to combat loneliness, courtesy of RMTC’s own Katarina Guillen MA, RP and Michael Poydenko MSc, RP (Qualifying)

 

Give Yourself Support & Shift Your Mindset 


Distinguishing between occasional loneliness and a persistent state often requires self-awareness and reflection. If feelings of loneliness persist despite attempts to connect with others or engage in activities, it may indicate a deeper issue. Signs such as withdrawing from social interactions, feeling disconnected even in the presence of others, or experiencing prolonged sadness may suggest a need for professional support. It's important to pay attention to how loneliness impacts daily functioning and overall well-being.


Katarina Guillen, MA, RP

“We as humans are wired for connection and social bonding, and being away from those we are close with or being isolated from others can be painful,” explains Guillen. “When we experience loneliness, we are also often longing for connections that we have had or could have in the future. Loneliness and longing for connection are natural human needs and tendencies. Remember that loneliness is signalling a need to connect, which most everyone needs.” 


Michael Poydenko MSc, RP (Qualifying)

If you’re having trouble keeping that in mind, shifting your actions can help shift your mindset. “Loneliness thrives on inaction,” says Poydenko, “try some small actions of drinking some water, taking a walk, and looking out at the horizon to see if feelings shift even a little bit.”  

 

Create Connection 


For individuals struggling with social anxiety or difficulty initiating contact, therapists may suggest starting small and gradually expanding comfort zones. This could involve practicing social skills in low-pressure environments, such as online forums or hobby groups, where interactions feel less intimidating. Setting manageable goals, like sending a text message or attending a small gathering, can help build confidence over time. Additionally, learning relaxation techniques and challenging negative thoughts about social interactions can be beneficial.


“If you are feeling this way, it is likely that some people close to you are feeling this way as well,” Poydenko reminds us. If you feel lonely, “Reach out to family or friends and see if they are free to make plans. If no one comes to mind, it might be a good opportunity to meet new people there's meetup apps or can lookup what's happening in the community, whatever hobby you have there are groups- even watch parties and book clubs open to new members.” 


Sometimes this isn’t possible, though. If that’s the case, Guillen recommends approximating connection. She explains, “if you're not able to spend time with loved ones or do something to forge new relationships in your 'ideal' way, perhaps there's a 'first step' or an 'approximation' you can make that would address your desire to connect in part. For instance: sending a text rather than a phone call to a friend that's busy, making plans for the future if this weekend doesn't work, searching for events in your area to meet new people or read some reviews from others that have done that search, etc. The goal is to do what you can now and plan to reach for your 'ideal' in the future.” 

 

Reflect and Refocus 

Societal factors and systemic issues can indeed contribute significantly to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Economic disparities, discrimination, urbanization, and technological changes can all affect social connections and community cohesion. Therapists might encourage clients to explore ways to engage with broader social issues, such as volunteering, advocacy, or joining community organizations. Building supportive networks and participating in collective efforts to address social challenges can provide a sense of belonging and purpose beyond individual actions. Additionally, therapists may help clients navigate these systemic challenges by empowering them to identify and challenge negative societal narratives and by promoting resilience-building strategies to cope with societal pressures.


“Focus on what matters to you,” says Guillen. “Loneliness and the desire to connect are strong motives and often surround values that many have such as a value for friendship, family, connection, for a romantic partner etc. If any of these matter to you, they are still likely just some of the values you hold or that are important to you. Often connection with others and a sense of community comes when we are doing things that matter to us or engaging with our values. Times of loneliness may be helpful moments to revisit other values in your life and focus on acting on them - this may build connection and a sense of community with others.” 

 

Since finding connection and community can happen when we’re doing aligned with our values, a period of loneliness may be the ideal time to try something new, suggests Poydenko. “Loneliness can be used as great fuel for expression, tap into creativity, those more prone to loneliness also tend to be more prone to creative inspiration some of the best music, literature, art has come from very lonely experiences, lonely experiences can have a top of value when shared, share your story first to yourself maybe in a journal and see if you want to put it out there.” 

 

Relationship Matters Therapy Centre is a private therapy practice in downtown Galt, serving Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, and Guelph in-person, or Ontario-wide online. If you’re looking to book an appointment with any one of the therapists at Relationship Matters you may contact us via email at admin@relationshipmatterstherapy.com, or by phone at 226-894-4112.  

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