How to cope with loneliness: methods and advice from psychologists

  • September 11, 2019
  • Psychology of Personality
  • Angelica Braldi

Loneliness is an amazing phenomenon that unites people of different ages, statuses, cultures and nationalities. Lonely people are rich and poor, old and young, sick and healthy. Both women and men are susceptible to it. Even children sometimes experience this feeling.

Loneliness does not always carry a negative, pathological meaning. Often it is a conscious, voluntary choice of lifestyle and emotional state. There are not so few people in the world striving for it. However, if a person is looking for ways to cope with loneliness, then it causes discomfort and is a pathology.

What it is? Definition in psychology

If we consider the phenomenon of loneliness as a pathological phenomenon that causes discomfort to people, that is, perceive it as a painful emotional state that needs to be fought, then, of course, it is necessary to turn to psychologists. And you should start by becoming familiar with what is understood in science by this term.

In psychology, loneliness is considered as a social phenomenon and a person’s mental and emotional state, characterized by a lack of intimacy, connections with other people, or the fear of finding them caused by the likelihood of loss.

This definition is very general. The lack of specifics is due to the fact that the very concept of “loneliness” has many meanings, nuances and shades of meaning.

What types of loneliness exist?

How to deal with loneliness on your own? Where to begin? From purchasing a gym membership? From visiting museums, theaters, exhibitions? From walking in busy places? From visiting entertainment venues? As a rule, a cascade of such questions literally pours out of the mouths of those who are desperate to find a solution to their emotional problem.

You should start not with specific actions, but with defining and understanding the nature of your loneliness, that is, with designating its variety.

Psychologists identify the following main types of this condition:

  • alienating;
  • associated with the mechanisms of perception of reality;
  • diffuse;
  • dissociated;
  • controlled.

Each type of loneliness poses a serious threat to a person's mental and emotional health.

How loneliness affects the mind and body

Some people believe that loneliness is purely an emotional reaction, but chronic loneliness can seriously affect a person's mental and physical health.

Increased anxiety and stress caused by loneliness cause the body to increase cortisol levels, which leads to a variety of physical and mental problems.

Some of these problems include:

Increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's diseaseSleep disorders
Decreased ability to concentrateDiabetes mellitus type 2
Reducing decision making and problem solvingHeart disease
DepressionHigh blood pressure
Obsessive-compulsive disorderSubstance use
Social anxietyShortened life expectancy
Mental fatigueIncreased inflammation

What are the types of loneliness?

Alienating loneliness is understood as a state of psychological detachment of a person from everything connected with the surrounding reality. In especially severe cases, people perceive their own personality with detachment. At the same time, the person is clearly aware of his own problem, but prefers inaction in relation to it.

Diffuse loneliness is a type of loneliness that is characterized by the loss of the individual’s own “I.” That is, a person literally dissolves in the crowd, merges with the “mass”, with society. He forgets about his own dreams, ideas, preferences, desires, and becomes “like everyone else.” It is this type of loneliness that is most common among residents of megacities.

Dissociated loneliness is actually a pathology. It is characterized by a “cocktail” of detachment, problems with self-identity and a tendency to fall under someone else’s influence. This type of loneliness affects mainly women, as well as exalted, enthusiastic and creative individuals who are in search of sources of inspiration.

Managed loneliness is not a problem at all. This is a state that a person can interrupt at any time. It arises with a conscious desire to preserve some qualities in oneself or to relax emotionally.

The mechanisms of perception of surrounding phenomena, circumstances, and people are all different. What is good for one is unacceptable for another. In other words, this type of loneliness consists of separate subtypes associated with personal characteristics. There is no clear characteristic of such loneliness; psychologists only point out that people are inclined to:

  • to hopelessness of perception;
  • to periodically stay in this state;
  • to being in it constantly.

These inclinations are determined by a combination of personal qualities of a particular person. For example, a single girl may be in this state because modern types of relationships are morally unacceptable to her or she is not interested in the people she meets in life. That is, her loneliness is determined by the mechanisms of personal perception, and she tends to periodically remain in this state. Over the years, the tendency to periodic loneliness will develop into a constant feeling, and then hopelessness will come. Of course, if this girl does not meet a person who matches her ideas and shares her views on life.

Is this condition a problem?

You can often hear or read in the media that the problem of loneliness in the modern world is extremely acute. But is it? And if so, what is the problem?

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the visible, personal loneliness of a person, that is, the absence of family, loved ones, close friends. But if this is a problem, then why are there so many divorces in the world? Abandoned children? Why do people who declare their loneliness do not strive to communicate with others, do not make friends?

It is in the ambiguity and complexity of this emotional state that psychologists see the main problem that needs to be solved. People suffering from loneliness, as a rule, are looking for a way to get rid of it, but in practice they do nothing about it.

The problem of loneliness, once appearing in a person’s life, becomes his everyday reality. Loneliness literally sprouts in the soul, becoming a nature, a shadow, a double of personality. That is, people understand that somewhere and someone lives differently, but they themselves do not try to change anything, although they talk about it. Moreover, lonely people often protect, groom and nurture their own emotional problem. And it is precisely in overcoming this “habit of loneliness” that lies the greatest difficulty that psychologists face when helping people get rid of this condition.

Why does this condition occur?

What reasons for loneliness come to mind first? As a rule, most people suffering from this condition claim that “it just happened.” In other words, life developed in such a way that at a certain stage they were left alone, without family, loved ones, and loved ones.

Accordingly, the reason for loneliness in this case lies in the lack of desire or ability to take responsibility for what is happening in life. Such people tend to blame life circumstances, fate, and others for their condition. As a rule, they do nothing to get rid of their emotional problem, they just talk about how to cope with loneliness. Moreover, this type of people often flaunts their condition in every possible way. This is expressed in phrases like: “I don’t need anyone,” “one is better,” “I will still tolerate someone.”

However, the lack of the habit of independently managing your own life and taking responsibility for it is far from the only reason for loneliness. Psychologists attribute other traits of the human personality to the reasons why this condition occurs:

  • arrogance;
  • low self-esteem;
  • dependence on others, both emotional and otherwise.

Of course, there are also completely objective reasons, little dependent on the person himself, because of which he plunges into loneliness. These are various diseases, injuries, developmental disabilities, and mental trauma.

But most often a banal lack of communication skills leads to loneliness. Paradoxical as it may seem, an incredible number of people simply do not know how to communicate because they did not learn this experience in childhood or faced difficulties that they could not overcome.

Why are people lonely?

Statistics show that loneliness is not always a coincidence of life circumstances. Most often, this is the result of a prolonged depression into which a person has driven himself. There are objective reasons due to which a person becomes lonely. He has achieved a high social status and believes that people of the “lower order” are unworthy of his society. This behavior is not liked by others. Everyone begins to turn away from the proud and arrogant person.

Another example. Everyone has their own unique life, but sometimes a person puts himself in the place of successful lucky people. He wants to jump out of the routine of everyday life, which has become unbearable. Doesn’t want to do the same things every day: wake up with the alarm ringing, go to work. At best, there is an incentive to achieve heights. At worst, the meaning of one’s existence is lost, as one becomes fixated on other people’s happiness. At the same time, if you do not achieve success, then the path of life will lead to a feeling of uselessness.

Advice! You should not believe that the family of your acquaintances is a complete idyll, which they strive to demonstrate. Often this is “inflated” information. There is an unspoken rule that states that what appears to be an ideal relationship is not so.

The most common mistake women make is being too inaccessible. A stylish, attractive, charming, educated and serious girl confuses the stronger sex. After all, men are only strong in appearance, but in their souls they are quite vulnerable. The guy does not dare to meet the impeccable lady, thinking that he does not have a lover. Or he is afraid that he himself will not reach the level of the iron lady, who will not compromise in order to achieve what is right.

What contributes to the appearance of this feeling?

The fight against loneliness is unlikely to be successful if a person does not notice in time the trends that contribute to the emergence of this condition, its rooting in the psyche and its development into a habit.

As a rule, loneliness haunts those people who:

  • work in a job that is not interesting or positive;
  • forced to follow rules, norms and traditions that are alien to them;
  • live in constant compromise with unloved people;
  • constantly infringe on themselves, pushing their desires into the background;
  • do not have the opportunity to share thoughts and ideas.

In other words, almost every average person leads a life that condemns him to loneliness.

What pushes a person to loneliness? Prerequisites

How to deal with loneliness? If we consider it as a pathology, then we need to pay attention to the prerequisites indicating the development of this condition. And begin therapy without delay, preventing loneliness from developing and developing into a habit, into everyday reality.

Is it possible? If we perceive loneliness as a pathology, then it is possible. Any disease has an incubation period and a first series of symptoms. For example, when you have a cold, your head first starts to hurt, then you feel tired, chills, and want to sleep. And only then the main symptoms appear - fever, cough, runny nose. And all this is often preceded by getting wet feet, being in a draft and other similar circumstances.

Accordingly, you need to notice the prerequisites, the first signs of impending loneliness. Then dealing with it will not be difficult.

The fact that a person will soon begin to suffer from loneliness is indicated by the following:

  • life shocks - death of relatives, divorce, serious illness, moving, etc.;
  • low social activity, inability to find topics for conversation, limited social circle;
  • complexes and emotional problems - uncertainty, fears, depression, worries, mania, stress;
  • “having your head in the clouds”, isolation from society, inflated or underestimated demands on others, inadequate assessment of oneself.

For example, a single girl may make excessive demands on boys or overestimate her own personality. Or a woman begins to feel confident that she is too fat, thin, old, and because of these complexes she is embarrassed to communicate with others. After a divorce, people often experience a whole bunch of emotional problems that lead them to loneliness.

That is, if there are prerequisites for the development of this state, there is no need to hesitate and convince yourself that everything in life is temporary. You should start fighting loneliness before it manifests itself in full force. That is, if we continue the analogy with diseases, engage in prevention, not treatment.

Causes of loneliness, melancholy and depression in women and men

Some scientists believe that the feeling of loneliness follows a person throughout his life; it’s just that some people cope with it better, and some worse. However, there are certain reasons why it appears.

The main reason is called improper upbringing, so this feeling often occurs in teenagers. It seems to them that the whole world is against them, and no one is able to understand them. You can find out how your parents' upbringing affected you as an adult using this psychological test.

This can also occur against the background of psychological illness and family discord. No less often it appears from complexes and fear of making a mistake in front of others.

Fighting methods

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people have no idea how to get out of this condition. They resemble blind kittens trying to find something by touch. Not everyone manages to at least partially reduce the level of loneliness they experience. Most require the help of qualified psychologists, and everyone without exception needs their advice and recommendations.

How do people cope with loneliness? What do lonely people usually do? They get a pet, find like-minded people on social networks, try to spend more time at work, or sign up for a gym, some courses, or attend various events.

Does this help? To some extent, yes. However, the effectiveness of such actions depends on two factors - the type of loneliness and the severity of the measures taken.

In other words, if a person gets a hamster or a cat, then he will not solve his problem with loneliness. But a dog, especially one that will participate in championships and exhibitions, with which it will be necessary to attend OKD and ZKS courses, will help to cope with the problem. Sitting at the computer in the evenings is also not straightforward. You can meet your soul mate on social networks, but not everyone succeeds.

Common mistakes of a lonely person

A common common mistake when living alone is staying at home all the time. People think that this will give them the opportunity to collect their thoughts and find the cause of this condition. But in fact, this only makes the problem worse. Instead, it is better to get out into nature or spend time in company.


Sometimes girls, after breaking up with a loved one or getting divorced, begin to see their future husband in literally everyone they meet out of melancholy. Psychologists assure that guys easily notice such women and try to stay away from them.

Another common mistake of girls, especially young ones, is to consider all men bad. But you cannot judge everyone around you based on old experience.

Some women often remain lonely due to the habit of constantly controlling a man. They forget that after marriage he does not become the property of his wife, and also needs personal space and time. what other mistakes women make in relationships .


Men are often sure that all good girls have been dating someone for a long time. But you just have to take a closer look at those around you, and it turns out that there are a lot of worthy companions around.

They also like to compare their new girlfriends with their old friends, and may directly tell the new lady that she does some things differently from her ex. You need to remember that after a divorce a new life begins, so you should not tell your new companion about the details of your past relationship.

A common male mistake is also refusing to communicate with children after a divorce. The fact that the relationship with their mother did not work out does not mean that the children do not want to communicate with their father.

Signs of this condition

To help a person cope with loneliness, you need to be able to identify its signs.

Lonely people are not isolated from others at all. Those around them may well notice their condition and try to help. However, before you try to save someone from loneliness, you need to make sure that the person really needs help. This is not easy to do. Lonely people often suppress this feeling and try in every possible way to hide it from others.

Their demeanor and “body language” give it away. The following speaks about loneliness:

  • drooping shoulders, stooping, shuffling gait - as a rule, older people very clearly demonstrate these features;
  • the manner of constantly crossing your arms on your chest, thereby fencing yourself off from others;
  • excessive ingratiation, importunity, desire to please, to be needed and in demand;
  • inattention to clothing or, conversely, bright, flashy and provocative outfits;
  • the desire to give advice and “teach” others.

Lonely people often react with hostility to questions about their personal or family life, hobbies, and leisure habits. Or, on the contrary, they try to create the illusion that their life is unusually exciting.

How can you help without encountering violent resistance and without feeling like a “rapist”? There is no single recipe or template, following which you can pull someone out of the abyss of loneliness. To begin with, you should communicate more with the person in need of help and pay attention to him. Sometimes this is enough for loneliness to begin to lose ground. The further course of action will become clear during the communication process. But when trying to help someone, we must not forget about sincerity. You can’t pretend to be someone’s friend and force yourself to communicate with someone who evokes negative emotions.

People most at risk of loneliness

So, who are the people most at risk of loneliness?

Loneliness can be experienced by anyone, but there are certain common situations that can trigger the onset (or recurrence) of loneliness. These include :

  • Finding yourself in a new situation, such as a new city, work or school, surrounded by unfamiliar people.
  • The loss of another person's "silent presence" when you no longer have someone with whom you can communicate passively and quietly.
  • Seeing yourself as different from others in many ways, such as religion, sexual orientation, or political beliefs.
  • Loss of trust in those closest to you, leaving you feeling hopeless and isolated, with no one to turn to
  • The realization that you lack an intimate partner with whom you can share your most private moments, or that your current partner no longer fulfills this need
  • Believe that none of your "friends" actually want to get closer to you because they often don't have the time to invest in further activities to get closer to you

How can a woman cope with loneliness after 30? Advice from psychologists

Lonely middle-aged ladies often give up on themselves and stop being active. They should remember how they behaved at 15, 18, 20 years old. After all, there were options for spending leisure time, new acquaintances happened, life was filled with meetings, partings, events, impressions. Why did all this go away? Because women themselves began to behave differently.

What to do? Psychologists advise the following:

  • remember or re-find your own “I” - interests, hobbies, hobbies, etc.;
  • make long-standing desires or dreams come true, for example, to travel to another country;
  • revive old friendships, even if the meeting does not lead to anything, it will broaden your horizons, give new impressions, knowledge, experience;
  • visit public places - cafes, concerts, holidays, exhibitions, performances;
  • walk in parks, on the embankment, and if this causes discomfort, then you can take a camera or a dog with you;
  • visit shopping centers more often, you don’t need to constantly shop, you should just be among people.

Of course, you can get a dog or register on a dating site. These are also good options for driving out loneliness from your life.

How to get rid of feelings of loneliness

A pet will help you get rid of inner emptiness. Thus, you can get a reliable friend who will always wait for the owner of the house and truly rejoice at his appearance. According to research, lonely people who have pets are less likely to think about suicide and are less likely to suffer from depression .

If you are constantly plagued by a feeling of loneliness, and there is no time or money to go to the doctor, then for the first time you can come up with a new hobby. You need to choose it based on your own preferences. A new hobby will give you a pleasant pastime, a lot of positive emotions and will help you take your mind off the loneliness of your soul.

Practical advice from a psychologist

Loneliness is not the easiest problem to solve. Therefore, you often have to turn to specialists for help. You should try the following methods for getting rid of melancholy and depression yourself.

  1. If you experience difficulties and a feeling of discomfort when communicating with other people, psychologists advise enrolling in public speaking courses. This is an important basic thing, without which it is impossible to establish contact with other people. This method is perfect for both a pensioner and a teenager who suffers from melancholy.
  2. You won’t be able to get rid of the feeling of loneliness right away, so you need to try to benefit from it. For example, spend your free time expanding your horizons and self-development, so that later you have something to talk about with people.
  3. Of course, if you stay at home and you can’t get rid of loneliness, you need to join clubs or study groups, where you will have the opportunity to find a person with similar interests. Besides, it’s easier to start dating in such a place.
  4. In moments of melancholy, watching videos and films, and online correspondence will greatly lift your spirits. Of course, this will not replace live communication, but it will significantly improve your mood.
  5. An alternative to live communication is social networks and instant messengers. Perhaps the acquaintances made there will soon develop into real relationships. Find out what 5 common mistakes women make when dating online.
  6. Volunteering is another great way to not only be useful to the community, but also constantly communicate.
  7. Remember your relatives or friends with whom you stopped communicating for some reason. Perhaps now is the time to restore relationships and forgive all old grievances.
  8. Frequently visit public places and events that interest you.
  9. Play sports. To do this, you don’t have to spend money on a fitness club. You can visit outdoor areas and communicate with like-minded people.
  10. Change your job or get an additional one. This way you will make new friends.

Forced social isolation plunges a person into a state of stress . We have already talked about how it affects physical and mental health. In fact, finding someone to chat with is quite easy. The main thing is that there is a desire for this.

Loneliness as a need

The need for solitude is included in the list of basic psychological needs. It manifests itself in early childhood, when children build huts, which are their zone of psychological comfort.

The modern environment is aggressive towards humans. Information flows literally from every crack. Therefore, it is not surprising that sometimes a person wants to isolate himself from everything and be alone with himself. At the same time, it does not matter what he is doing at this time. But, unfortunately, some people are embarrassed to tell their loved ones that they would like to be on their own or simply do not know how to defend their personal boundaries .

Failure to satisfy this need leads to nervous system disorders , and because of this, relatives will suffer even more. The desire to be apart from your family does not mean a bad attitude towards them.

How to deal with loneliness as a man? Advice from psychologists

Men endure loneliness much harder than women. At the same time, they hide it much more carefully, pretending to be “convinced bachelors.”

Men tend to run away from problems and make the following mistakes:

  • “drown” loneliness in alcohol;
  • fanatically indulge in sports;
  • agree to at least some company;
  • spend all your free time on the Internet;
  • work constantly;
  • enthusiastically accept attention from any woman.

Psychologists advise not to do all this. You need to find something you like that can become a second profession and generate income and be in demand. These could be guitar courses or 3D design courses, cooking lessons, or photography classes. The main thing is that the occupation should be the opposite of your current profession. This will allow you to find a completely different social circle. Of course, it should captivate a man.

How to overcome loneliness after separation? Advice from psychologists

Centuries ago, doctors believed that a “broken heart” could be healed by travel. Of course, they were not psychologists, but modern experts agree with this “recipe”. So, how to deal with loneliness after a breakup?

A person experiencing a breakup in a relationship needs a change of scenery, new and vivid emotions. You can’t go back every day to a place where every thing reminds you of happy moments of the past.

Psychologists also advise taking a piece of paper and writing down on it both the disadvantages of breaking up and its advantages. Moreover, it’s worth recording everything, every little thing. For example, if a woman is left alone, she does not need to run home after work, stopping at the store on the way, and stand at the stove. She can visit a cinema, run into a couple of ladies' boutiques, or just take a walk. A man does not need to come up with an explanation for why he went to the pub with friends, and did not go to the dacha to dig beds.

There are many examples of the benefits of separation. Moreover, some of them can bring a smile or laughter even to a very upset person. Accordingly, you need to find the advantages and, most importantly, use them.

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