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Valentine's Day Blues: These 6 Strategies Could Help Beat Loneliness
Special occasions like Valentine's Day may bring up feelings of loneliness. Here's what to know about loneliness and how to move through it.
Taylor LeameySenior Writer
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness, specializing in mental health, sleep and nutrition coverage. She has invested hundreds of hours into studying and researching sleep and holds a Certified Sleep Science Coach certification from the Spencer Institute. Not to mention the years she spent studying mental health fundamentals while earning her bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. She is also a Certified Stress Management Coach.
ExpertiseBachelor of Science, Psychology and SociologyCredentials
For many people, feelings of loneliness or isolation can hit hard during certain times of the year -- Valentine's Day may be one of those times. Marketed as a day for couples and people celebrating their love, it also can exacerbate feelings of being left out of a group, or make you question your self-worth.
If you're feeling lonely, know you're not alone. But loneliness is painful, and that's why most people don't openly discuss their feelings. And that's the thing about loneliness; it wants you to itself. The only way to get past it is to talk about it.
Whether it be Valentine's Day or any other day, let's discuss loneliness and how to beat it.
Loneliness can happen to anyone; it's not limited to shy or reserved people. It can happen to the life of the party too.
Loneliness is triggered by but not limited to:
Mental health conditions like depression
Trauma or loss
Chronic health conditions or disabilities
Loneliness can become emotionally consuming if given a chance and greatly impact your mental health. It's more than just sadness. Loneliness and depression can form a vicious cycle that feeds on each other -- loneliness can exacerbate depression symptoms, and you experience symptoms when you're lonely.
Loneliness can happen in short bursts throughout someone's life or become a chronic condition someone experiences. Chronic loneliness can cause someone to think negatively about themselves and increase their risk for depression and anxiety. Long term, it can impede someone's cognition, such as problem-solving and concentration.
Coping strategies if you're experiencing loneliness
Loneliness isn't a character flaw and doesn't have to last forever. While it's a journey to get through, you can cope and come out of loneliness. Try using these strategies when you're experiencing loneliness.
1. Acknowledge what you're feeling
It might seem small, but naming what you're feeling is one of the most important things you can do when coping with loneliness. It's the basis for everything you do next. You can't find a solution to something if you don't know what you're dealing with.
Once you accept that you're feeling lonely, you can step back and see how it's impacting your life. Then you can decide what to do next.
2. Make use of your time
Taking your alone time and using it to achieve something you want is a way to take back control over being by yourself. That shifts the focus away from being lonely and wishing you were with people to something you look forward to.
You can take back your time any way you like. Maybe it's taking up a new hobby or working toward a goal you have. Or maybe it's carving out time to practice yoga. The point is to pick something that helps you connect with yourself and how you feel. It's important that you value the activity you pick.
3. Make connections with others
Loneliness stems from the lack of meaningful connection with others. One of the best ways to cope with loneliness would be to be intentional about meeting people and cultivating relationships. How you choose to put yourself out there is entirely up to you. It can be anything -- volunteering, joining a class or hanging out with your family.
Jumping into socialization can become overwhelming. Remember a few key things when making friends:
Respect your boundaries: If you don't thrive in larger groups, look for situations that allow you to connect with others on a smaller scale. You also should go at the pace that suits your needs. Overdoing it can make it hard to stick with your goals.
Be patient: Building relationships with new people takes time. Even when you take the initiative and reach out, it may take a while to feel comfortable and shake off negative feelings. Don't rush yourself.
Seek healthy relationships: Past negative experiences often contribute to feelings of alienation or loneliness. Being intentional about your needs with people will help establish the right tone.
4. Use peer support groups
Meeting others is great, but sometimes, the deepest connection comes from people who understand what you're going through. There are various online support groups that will allow you to share experiences and build relationships with people who have similar interests.
If you'd rather meet face to face, you can use the National Alliance on Mental Illness's support group locator to find one in your area.
5. Prioritize self-care
It's easy to assume that the ultimate cure for loneliness is to connect with others and let everything else fall by the wayside. But when you're in the thick of loneliness, self-care is essential. Self-care is a big term; let's break it down.
Make sure you get enough sleep: Sleep directly affects mental health. Sleep deprivation is linked to decreased emotional regulation, stress and trouble concentrating. As often as you can, make sure you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
Relax: Don't forget to give yourself time to disconnect from everything and relax. For some people, it's a bubble bath; for others, it's reading or listening to music.
Practice gratitude: Being intentional about practicing gratitude is a useful everyday strategy to reduce stress and depression symptoms. It also can help you when building new relationships. Start practicing gratitude by journaling your feelings and giving yourself time to self-reflect.
6. Consider therapy
There's no true diagnosis for loneliness, but that doesn't mean you can't get help for your feelings. When loneliness is comorbid with other conditions, like depression, it can change the way you live. You sometimes need help with loneliness beyond self-help strategies, and that's okay. Sometimes, the root problem needs to be addressed in therapy.
Working with a therapist through cognitive behavioral therapy will help you challenge negative thinking and direct your thoughts, emotions and actions more constructively. If you can't afford traditional therapy, consider online platforms or affordable therapy options that don't require insurance. Starting therapy can seem daunting, especially if you don't know where to start. Start looking for the best therapist through your healthcare provider, online resources or local groups.
Loneliness can feel incredibly isolating, but you're not alone.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.