By nature, humans are sociable but some people have a harder time connecting with people than others. It can be a catch-22 for many people: the state of their mental health makes them feel lonely and their feeling of loneliness damages their mental health. But unlike many of the mental health illnesses, people can control whether they want to be lonely or not. If you are one of those persons, sometimes all you need are some ideas on how to better connect with people.
Discovering why you are lonely
Usually the first step toward resolving loneliness is figuring out why you are lonely. For some people, it is because they just don’t come in contact with very many people. They might live in a rural area that doesn’t have a lot of people near where they live. In those situations, they can create more human contact by doing any or all of these three things:
Participating in Social Media – If you are one of these people, online contacts via social media can be a godsend. While it is not as good as face-to-face conversations, even though apps like Skype gets it close to that level, you’ll get at least some social contact with other human beings. For many people, these contacts have evolved into real friendships with them eventually meeting each other face-to-face. Even some romances have taken hold. Otherwise, the person will have to make an extra effort to go where other people gather to make meaningful contacts.
Volunteering – Just a day or two per week for an organization you like to support can help relieve your loneliness. Not only are you making a difference for a cause you support, but you are making new contacts with people having the same desire.
Taking a College Class – If you have a community college, vocational school or university close to you, take a class in a subject that you have always wanted to learn. Other like-minded individuals will also be in the class doing the same so you have a built-in topic to start a conversation.
Other people experience loneliness because they are socially awkward. They are uncomfortable meeting new people and often have anxiety issues when faced with that situation. For them, they must take extra steps to gradually become more comfortable talking to people. For example:
- They must start by going to a social gathering and smiling at a few people. If they speak, respond appropriately. Sometimes this can spark an ongoing conversation.
- While at that social gathering ask someone you don’t know a simple question like “what time is it?” After they answer thank them and then excuse yourself. This interaction should be cordial, but short and sweet as to not raise your anxiety level too much.
- The next step is to put yourself a little farther out there by introducing yourself to another person at a social gathering.
- Finally, listen to a conversation that is happening and interject a positive comment or two and see where it goes. With this last social gesture, you have moved from being in contact with just one person at a time to group of people.
Keep in mind these four steps might be spread over four or more different social gatherings. Or they could all happen at the same one, depending on how you feel mentally and emotionally after each encounter.
Take a look at Overcoming Loneliness for simple ways to open yourself up so you improve your odds of making friends and building relationships. Regardless of why you are lonely, having frequent social contact is key to happiness. Get yourself out there today and start enjoying being around people!