Loneliness is not just about being alone, it is the feeling that nobody cares — and that is the feeling that hurts most; the feeling that really hits hard. All of us have experienced loneliness at some point or the other. Students tend to feel lonely the first few days of college in a new city, in an unfamiliar hostel or paying guest accommodation. However, if they are lucky enough to find friends soon enough, the feeling passes as quickly as it comes. Not everyone is lucky, though. For some, the loneliness prolongs and becomes a part of their life. This can ultimately lead to depression and serious behavioural issues.

Imagine the condition of people who were forced to work from home amidst the pandemic, in a different city, far away from family! Those who have a huge circle of friends may have managed to survive by keeping in touch with all of them online, but there are many out there who find it difficult to make friends. For such people, the office is the only place where they get to interact with people and feel belonged, needless to say, the remote working arrangement would have messed with their mental health for sure.

Remember, loneliness is nothing out of the ordinary. It can actually make a person emerge stronger.

Make friends with your own self: Has someone broken your heart? Has your family turned against you? Have your friends given up on you? If you think you are right, it does not matter who supports your or doesn’t. All that matters is your faith in yourself and your belief that you are on the right path. You are your best friend. If you yourself are your true companion, how can loneliness find a place in your life?

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself

Loneliness does not always come from being alone: It is possible to feel alone even in a room full of people. If your wave length doesn’t match with those you are with, and you are unable to relate to what is being discussed, you are bound to feel lonely. If you take off on a trip with strangers who share your love for, say, meditation or yoga, you may feel at ease. In fact, you may feel more comfortable with like-minded strangers than at a party with several familiar people. Again, if you are surrounded by all kinds of wrong people, how can you feel any camaraderie or companionship? It is, therefore, important to be in like-minded company in order to feel a sense of belonging.

If you exist, then surely there is someone else out there just like you

Loneliness can mess with your heart and mind: Research shows that loneliness can make you feel unwell, physically and mentally. Loneliness can cause your blood pressure to shoot, raise your cholesterol levels and lower your immunity. It can cause sleeplessness, which may force a person to resort to drugs, alcohol or other negative habits. Before loneliness starts really messing with your body and putting negative thoughts in your head, identify the reason for your loneliness and seek help, preferably professional help.

Sometimes, you have to be your own hero

Loneliness can help you discover yourself: When you find yourself alone and isolated, you are forced to introspect, explore your own mind and discover your true self. Like someone so rightly said, “We sometimes think we want to disappear, but all we really want is to be found”. Loneliness has given birth to many a successful author, painter, musician and entrepreneur. Consider loneliness as a chance to be better.

If you make friends with yourself, you will never be alone

Remain connected: It is a good idea to set aside some time every day to call up a friend or family member and catch up. Social media gives each one of us the power to find long-lost friends and reach out to them no matter which corner of the world they are in. Don’t let anything stop you from establishing relationships. Even long-distance friendships and relationships can work wonders when it comes to keeping loneliness at bay.

Boredom only fuels loneliness: Are you feeling bored? Nip the feeling in the bud. Revisit long forgotten hobbies or pick up new ones. Today, there is nothing that is not available online. You can learn many crafts free of cost from the comfort of your home. So, why let boredom seep in at all? Keep yourself so busy that there is no time to feel bored at all.

Negativity should have no place in your life: A lonely person tends to nurture negative thoughts. What is required is positivity. Tell yourself repeatedly how good you are. Focus on your own positive qualities. Infusing yourself with positive thoughts can go a long way in improving your mental health. And if your mental health is good, there is no way loneliness can creep in, because you will always be gearing up to do something new.

Being alone is good at times, but being lonely is the worst

Venting is essential: Keeping your feelings bottled up within you can be very harmful. If you feel strongly about something, or are angry with someone or are filled with hatred for a person, just let it out. Share your feelings with someone. If you cannot find anyone to discuss your thoughts and feelings with, just open your diary and write down what you feel. Keeping a diary can be a very effective therapy for loneliness.

Loneliness comes from lack of purpose: If you think loneliness comes from dearth of friends or companionship, you may be wrong. If you have a purpose in life, a goal to pursue, then whether you have company or not does not really matter. Your goals and your purpose will take up your thoughts and your time. So, one way to keep loneliness at bay is to have a purpose in life. Social work is an ideal way to channelize your time and energy. Associate yourself with a cause that you feel strongly about and dedicate a fixed portion of your day or week to working for that cause. You will find that you have time for little else in life after that, let alone feel lonely. A quote by Mike Murdoch this point will not be out of place: “Loneliness is not the absence of affection, but the absence of direction.”

Are you lonely? Then it is time to evaluate yourself

You cannot be strong all the time: All human beings experience weak moments. Accept that it is alright to feel weak. It is a normal feeling. If you feel like being alone, to cry and let your tears flow, go ahead and do so by all means. It will only help your mind and heart become lighter. Everyone needs a break, to be alone and figure things out. Make the most of this ‘me’ time to clear your head, but don’t prolong this need to be with yourself for too long.

While it is easy to preach about ways to fight loneliness, the truth remains that it is not a transient state for everyone. It does not eventually pass for everyone. If people are unable to meet their social needs or find their wishes going unfulfilled repeatedly, they are bound to start feeling unwanted and lonely. When this loneliness becomes chronic, it has a debilitating effect. As responsible individuals, we should be able to sense if somebody is lonely and go out of our way to get them to snap out of it or seek professional help, counselling or therapy.