Sit psykososial: How to deal with loneliness?

Psychologist specialist Elisabeth Gusdal at Psychosocial Health Services at Sit has written something about what can help when feeling lonely.

10 advice when your’re feeling lonely:

  1. Try to figure out what’s causing the feeling of loneliness: Is it a real lack of friends and network, or is it an experience of not quite belonging, being different from others, or feeling less valuable than others. The reason matters to how you will handle the problem!
  2. Many people are ashamed to feel lonely, but loneliness is a normal feeling most of us experience in different situations throughout our life. Students are in a particularly challenging phase of life. It takes time to learn a new culture and its way of communicating, to find your group, establish security and an experience of belonging and trust with others. At the same time many students miss someone, like family and old friends in other parts of the world.
  3. Some are very lucky and find someone at once, others need to spend time looking for people and places where they feel at home. This doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Try challenging yourself and check out new things and places. Don’t give up!
  4. Try to look at loneliness as an expression of an underlying need, rather than a flaw. Kind of like hunger it signals a lack of contact and community with others. This can be actual aloneness, or it can signal poor quality and lack of openness and care in your relationships.
  5. Scrolling through social medias can become a painful activity, everyone seems to be having fun while you’re missing someone or something. Used in a better way, social media can become a place where you find activities and happenings, chat with others or participate in interactive games where friendships can be built.
  6.  Our previous experiences with belonging or being excluded create expectations when we meet new people and places: The faith that we’ll be well received or, rather, the fear of new rejections will determine how safe and relaxed we feel. It can be painful and scary to make yourself vulnerable again, but remember that a painful feeling needs a new experience to heal.
  7. In fear of rejection we unconsciously pull away from others in various ways, for instance by avoiding eye contact, not saying hello or avoiding going over to others. Try to go against this fear and give other people the opportunity to get to know you. Practicing small interactions with others everyday can increase your sense of security and make it less scary.
  8. Know that others also feel lonely and would appreciate your invitation to come along or have chat. Contributing in other peoples’ lives makes us feel good and builds community.
  9. Painful secrets, high internal self-demands, chasing social status and perfectionistic expectations create distance with others, and can become a fertile ground for loneliness to thrive. Being with others can become dreadful and tiresome. Finding the common humanity “behind the façade” can be a good cure against loneliness and notions that others are doing better than you.
  10. Seek help if you’re stuck in a painfull situation and can’t figure the way out, either in a trustworthy person or a professional helper.