Mind and Soul

10 therapist-approved tips to combat feeling lonely

10 therapist-approved tips to combat feeling lonely

We are currently in the midst of a loneliness epidemic, with more people than ever reporting feeling disconnected or isolated.

Krasi Kirova, a registered psychologist at Wattletree Psychology, believes that technology is one trait of our modern way of life that contributes to skyrocketing loneliness rates.

Kirova explained that technology has substituted so much of our face-to-face interactions. Online interactions can create the impression of social engagement but often lacks the socio-emotional nourishment that comes with body language mirroring, emotional coregulation, and deep connection that humans need to thrive.

What is the impact of online communication’s immediate and almost effortless nature on the quality of our relationships? Has technology brought us closer, or have we replaced real connections with superficial performative friendships to share online?

Do we really need in-person interactions to feel connected and happy?

Kirova said that social connection is crucial for human wellbeing and that many of her clients don’t realise they’re lonely until it comes up through discussing other mental health concerns.

“Psychology identifies two core needs that every human should seek to nurture and balance to achieve healthy living: the need for connection and the need for establishing a self,” she said.

“Humans evolutionarily are social animals and suffer when this need is not fulfilled in meaningful ways. This can, of course, vary significantly between individuals based on their temperament however, the need for attachment and connection is universal and unquestionable.”

Your social connection toolbox: 10 tips for fighting loneliness

What can you do if you’re experiencing social isolation or feeling lonely? Here are 10 therapist-approved tips to combat loneliness:

1. Start with compassionate self-awareness

Starting the journey of fighting loneliness starts with curiosity, awareness, and self-compassion. Understanding why you feel lonely can help you develop an action plan that meets your needs and is realistic and achievable for you and your circumstances.

Kirova suggests identifying how you currently fill your time to see where you can carve out more for social engagement. She said that most of us probably spend a lot of valuable time scrolling social media, playing games, or binge-watching TV streaming services.

Seeing how these activities add up is helpful in finding spare hours in your schedule to connect with people.

2. Brainstorm your ideal social activity

Next, brainstorm some ideas for ways to socialise that feel attractive or enjoyable for you.

If you’re not feeling up for group dinners or one-on-one drinks, perhaps you’d prefer to seek out groups, clubs, or classes where you can learn a new skill or find a hobby that helps you meet like-minded people in your area.

You could also volunteer or get involved in local community services, like a charity-based club or a spiritual organisation that aligns with your values.

Krasi Kirova, registered psychologist

Registered psychologist Krasi Kirova. Image credit: Krasi Kirova.

3. Allow space for social anxiety

Many people found the return to ‘normalcy’ post-pandemic almost as jarring as the years of lockdowns themselves.

Socialising is like a muscle. It can weaken over time until the thought of getting dressed, travelling to a meeting place, and conversing for a few hours feels more exhausting or intimidating than it’s worth.

Ease yourself back into the social world at a pace that feels right for you, and avoid comparing yourself to other people. There is a balance to strike between hiding away from the world and burning yourself out.

4. Factor in introversion

A common misconception about introverts is that they are anti-social or simply anxious about gatherings or communicating with others.

In reality, many introverts adore being around people. They are often the life of the party and the last one to leave. The difference is introverts have a much longer recovery process to recharge their nervous system and energy levels when the party ends.

This directly contrasts with extroverts, who can feel depleted and tired until they meet up with friends, after which they feel renewed and energised.

Being introverted doesn’t mean you need less connection than other people; it just means you must plan your schedule more carefully to allow time to recharge your social batteries.

5. Don’t discount online interactions

Face-to-face socialisation is not equally attractive or accessible to everyone.

Online interaction is a vital source of connection and support for people facing physical barriers to public meeting places or those who have sensory, neurodevelopmental, or mental health barriers that make in-person gatherings challenging.

Meeting up online is also a great substitute for people without access to safe transport or the financial means to go out for dinners or paid activities.

Online socialising is not inherently bad, but finding ways to deepen the quality of these interactions is important. You could try swapping a text message for a quick Facetime or voice note so you can see or hear your loved ones.

Rather than sending yet another a rushed message promising to ‘catch up soon’, perhaps you plan to do a mundane chore together on a Zoom call, mimicking the casual closeness of sitting in your bedroom with your childhood bestie while you do homework, for example.

6. Take the leap and reach out first 

Kirova said that people often feel lonely not because they have no friends or social circle but because they have stopped actively attending gatherings or reaching out to others.

She stresses the importance of committing to reaching out rather than waiting for connections to fall into your lap or expecting the other party to reach out first.

“Make a commitment to contact two friends per week and organise at least one going out regularly so you start getting back into the groove of socialising,” she said.

7. Practise vulnerability

Once you’ve found your rhythm with being social again, consider the depth and quality of your connections.

Most of us know the feeling of being incredibly lonely when surrounded by people we don’t get along with or who we feel don’t understand us.

Show up as your authentic self and be vulnerable and honest with your friends. It’s one thing to have a bunch of people to hang out with, and it’s quite another to feel deeply seen, understood, and accepted.

When you feel that you belong and can trust deeply in those around you to support and love you through life’s challenges, loneliness is far less likely to seep in.

8. Focus on quality over quantity of friendships

Kirova affirmed that loneliness is often about a lack of meaningful attachments.

“We can be surrounded by a multitude of people, but if we feel no belonging amongst them, no reciprocal care, no depth of the connection, and no safety to reveal ourselves genuinely to others, we feel lonely,” she said.

Be honest with yourself about whether you are spending a lot of energy and time on friendships that don’t nourish you. Cutting ties is never easy, but taking some space to explore new or existing connections that fill your cup is a vital antidote to loneliness.

9. Become your own best friend and relish alone time

Being on your own in appropriate amounts and out of genuine desire can be fulfilling and re-energising. It helps us reconnect with ourselves as it meets our second core need of maintaining a strong sense of self.

Spending quality time with ourselves is also a great way to determine our needs and priorities in our relationships with others so we better understand what we want and need from our connections.

10. Remember why you’re a great friend

Spend some time reflecting on the qualities you have that you would love to have in a friend.

When we are a little rusty in the socialising department, we can sometimes forget how much we bring to the table in our connections. Write down all your great qualities when you’re feeling down for a confidence boost and motivation to get out there and meet people, knowing that you have so much to offer.

TELL US: What do you do to combat loneliness? We’d love for you to share your tips in the comment section below.

Emma Lennon

Emma Lennon


Emma Lennon is a passionate writer, editor and community development professional. With over ten years’ experience in the disability, health and advocacy sectors, Emma is dedicated to creating work that highlights important social issues.