I was reading through Facebook posts and saw a post from a friend. I was experiencing loneliness and wanted to reach out to them. Loneliness was a growing concern before the pandemic. Now, it’s worse. Here are four surefire ways to help you overcome loneliness and improve your emotional health. 

First, what is loneliness? Daniel Perlman Ph.D. and Letitia Anne Peplau Ph.d., psychologists and authors on loneliness theory defined loneliness as,

Loneliness is the unpleasant experience that occurs when a person’s network of social relationships is deficient in some important way…

Why Is There A Problem With Social Relationships?


Sometimes, realizing you are lonely is not easy to identify. When you have family and friends around it makes it more difficult to recognize loneliness. Zig Ziglar, a famous American salesperson and motivational speaker, said,

The first step in solving a problem is recognizing it does exist.

Today, there is a situational component to loneliness – social distancing. Social distancing stopped you from doing those activities where you interacted with others. In addition, social distancing became a training ground for social isolation and loneliness.

And loneliness can have repercussions. Nick Morgan, Ph.D. identified how loneliness can become a vicious circle,

The parts of the brain that respond to threats become more agitated. As a result, we may become more hostile to those around us, thus further pushing people away and making us lonelier still.

Yet, social distancing isn’t the only reason for social isolation and loneliness. Politics has reduced friendships and eliminated conversations. Dr. Jan-Willem van Prooijen, Endowed Professor of Radicalization, Extremism, and Conspiracy thinking at Maastricht University identified “anxious uncertainty” as a cause of political polarization. He stated that “anxious uncertainty” has its roots in “anxiety about the economic future.” The problem with anxiety coupled with uncertainty is this type of stress can pit people against each other.

Overcome Loneliness by Sharing Purpose in Life

To conquer loneliness, you’ll need to change something. What can you change? Dr. Sheldon Cohen, professor at Carnegie Melon University, thinks positive social interactions can reduce stress and create a feeling of meaning and purpose in life. These emotions can help overcome loneliness.


What can you do to help create a sense of meaning and purpose for people? The easiest thing to do is to acknowledge someone. The grocery clerks, customer service members, and anyone you interact with, take time to notice them. Asking the clerk how their day is going. Or ask them if they have been busy. Simple questions can open up an avenue for positive social interaction. Thanking the customer service person for their help can make their day more rewarding. Leaving a tip tells your waitstaff you know they are here and appreciate their time. Try a different method of engaging with friends who are politically polarized.

Learning New Ways to Connect

The pandemic has spent two years recreating how people socialize. Although people want in-person social interactions, the American Psychology Association “Stress in America” poll found, “…Nearly half of Americans (49%) said they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends.”

More and more people are turning to online social interactions. People use online communities in ways that go beyond the office zoom meeting or facebook post. Group interaction is expanding with new rules of engagement while allowing individuals to manage their social anxiety. “There’s a ‘safety element’ to showing up via video chat,” related one online user.

And these new rules of engagement are also changing how people communicate with each other. Michigan-based sexologist Megan Stubbs has observed. “I see more avenues of communication being open. People are talking more and getting more specific about their needs…Distance necessitates this. When you’re not in the same room… you can’t rely on body language and subtle cues.

And the APA Stress poll found “the majority of those who have had online social interactions since the coronavirus pandemic started (84%) said these engagements have helped them cope with stress.

Old-school is Still Useful When Overcoming Loneliness

Today, technology has created new ways to communicate. Yet, there are still the old-school method of a telephone call. Reaching out to old friends may fill a part of your social network that is lacking right now. Friendships happened over time, sometimes years. Friendship author and speaker Shasta Nelson in her book, “Friendships don’t just happen,” recognizes,

Our friendships did not just magically appear out of nowhere; they were birthed and fostered in a container of consistent time together.

Friendships have a special bond of intimacy. Even though time may have changed both of you, friendships connect at a deep level. Shasta Nelson suggest friendships connect through your core identity. Your core identity are parts of you that will always be with you. 

So, I reached out to my friend. I hadn’t talked to them in years. We were able to hook up again, and it was amazing. There has never been another friend like her. That’s the neat thing about friends. No two friends are the same.

Within fifteen minutes of our two-hour conversation, she had me laughing at the plight of being human while running out of toilet paper and recklessly challenging the status quo on bathing. That deep ability to laugh at the stupidest things was exactly what I was missing in my social network of a world too serious.

4 Ways to Overcome Loneliness 

Acknowledge People Overcome the Social Dilemma
Find ways to acknowledge people. People need to know their effort has value & they are seen. Something as simple as a “thank-you” can change a day. Realize the social dilemma only has to be personal if you want it to be. This is overwhelming and you have the option to respond or let it go when someone you know becomes a disrupter.
Challenge Yourself Participate in Old-School
Individuals are experiencing new ways of communicating through online forums. Challenge yourself to participate in chat or different online group social activities. Reaching out and connecting with an old friend through your cell phone can be just the relationship you need for your mental health.