10 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Lonely.

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Sometimes the world feels lonely.

I remember this feeling striking me as particularly unusual and heavy when my husband and I lived outside of Philadelphia. I was far from my family—yet not as far away as when I had lived in New Mexico—but the crowded city streets seemed to highlight my loneliness rather than alleviate it.

Recently my husband and I relocated again, and it’s brought back this sense of not belonging. I think anytime a new and unfamiliar area has to be called “home,” it heightens this sense of having too few people to turn to.

Really, in the end, though, only I am responsible for my happiness—and for my feelings of loneliness.

It’s not right, for example, that my poor husband gets an unfair share of these feelings when they arise—and I have to be conscious not to depend on him too much. (After all, he is only one person and I am supposed to be a big girl.) So what should we do when we feel alone and there’s no easy or obvious solution? Try these ten things.

1. Take a bath. You’ve got to trust me on this one: taking a bath is a great way to enjoy your alone time rather than wallow in it. Being alone can be luxurious and wonderful (take it from a mom who almost always has to bathe with her toddler these days). Take the time to treat yourself to a nice, long bubble bath (and if you do it my way, make sure there’s a plate with dark chocolate and a glass of wine beside your tub).

2. Take a walk. Being out in nature is extremely cleansing and uplifting—and it can be a great way to enjoy your solitude. One of my favorite meditations is a walking meditation; where you focus on the sensations of your feet lifting up from and stepping onto the ground. It’s very earthy and calming—and a healthy usage of alone time.

3. Go to a movie. Yes, I’m one of those weirdos that likes seeing movies alone (not that I don’t enjoy company). When I lived in New Mexico, my work schedule was often the exact opposite of my husband’s, so I’d pop into that teeny, tiny theater off the plaza and watch a film alone. I also frequented movies by myself when we lived in PA and I traveled with my husband for his job. Give it a shot, or if it’s not your style at all, watch a movie on Netflix.

4. Go to a yoga class. If you tend to be a home practitioner, but find yourself feeling lonely as of late, then head to your local studio. You can zone out and get all the benefits of your yoga practice, but having people on mats next to you can be a comfort when you’re feeling overly isolated.

5. Read. Reading a great novel is something we generally tend to prefer doing alone anyways. For me, getting lost in a book is one of my favorite passions—and a great thing to do when you’re feeling lonely.

6. Get coffee. It might seem silly, but one of my favorite places to head during some of our more isolated locals was my small-town coffee shop.

7. Go to the library. Libraries, especially these days, are underrated. You just might discover your new favorite book while perusing the shelves, and there’s almost always a soft, cozy chair to sit in for a little while.

8. Branch out. Do you feel lonely a lot? Think about why. If it’s because you’re not making friends easily then look for different places where you can meet people with similar values—say, the yoga studio for example.

9. Get a haircut. This suggestion might be unexpected, but I have a history of doing things to my hair when I feel lonely or in a rut. It’s just hair, it grows back, and you should be having fun with it anyway. For me, a haircut is such a cathartic experience—and it’s almost always invigorating and renewing if you’re feeling down.

10. Become your own best friend. If you’re not already, you should definitely consider becoming your own best friend. For one, life is a lot more fun when you enjoy your own company. Secondly, we tend to meet healthy friends and partners when we like ourselves first; and lastly, it alleviates a lot of feelings of loneliness if you like being with yourself.

I’ve always needed alone time, but my first big, adult move out west with my husband was surprisingly enlightening.

I learned a lot of things about myself by being forced to spend more time alone than I would have previously chosen to do. These tips and suggestions are things that have really helped me throughout the years when I felt isolated and alone—and I hope they help you if you’re in a similar place in your own life right now.

Remember, though, that life should be a social, fun experience, so if you’re feeling lonely a lot, don’t ignore it. Talk to someone you trust.

Having said that, I love The Verve song On Your Own that says “you come in on your own and you leave on your own.” It’s a reminder that we’re supposed to experience moments of solitude; we are solitary—and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.



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Ed: Kate Bartolotta
Image: Beth Solano / Unsplash

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Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She’s also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.

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anonymous Feb 10, 2016 1:11pm

Karate and going for a swim reading self improvement books , learn something new.

anonymous Oct 26, 2015 1:04am

Thank you for sharing! Another thing I love to do that can really help with loneliness is to volunteer. It offers community and the joy of contributing to something greater than oneself.

anonymous Sep 11, 2015 1:40pm

1. Not everyone likes tub baths. 2. Not eveyone likes nature some of us have asthma/allergies. Also I live in Florida I’d be drenched in sweat within minutes. 3. Movies are absurdly overpriced priced nowadays. I’d rather watch it at home on ondemand for $5 in my pjs then $10 in a theater with strangers. 4. Pilates >Yoga enough said. 5. This is an awesome idea. 6. Another awesome idea! How about pairing it with #5? 7. This depends on where you live. My local library is where the homeless people go to use the bathroom and take a sink bath. 8. Again Pilates > Yoga. Not everyone likes yoga. 9. NO. 10. This is another awesome idea.

anonymous May 19, 2015 4:33pm

I my self is now alone. I have just recently lost my dear love to the terable Cancer. A rare form of Ovarian Cancer (Clear cell). I was a 4 month battle of her life, and lost Apr.28.2015. Renee would be turning 49, A week after. most of my time was spent beside her, home and a few years of working beside her at a studio. For the past 16 years livinng, together in the highs and lows. (like most relationships) mabey more lows. but still we were together always. "She ran the rules,her way and only her way" And now that she is gone, It dose hurt really bad, but now. I do not know, there is no more, alot of empty fealings with no words to describe. It's not like a seperation where you can still talk, see each other and do things. It's not like that now she is gone. Only the memories of our past remain for now, and over time they will eventualy be forgotin. Only time will tell, one step is a new step FORWARD, Now i can start to do the things I wanted to do of long ago. Compleat the task/jobs that was "Not the right time to do right now" type stuff. I my self need time to compleat, tasks of long ago. It dose help if you have a dog/cat around to walk or play with, make it your time, and go for a longer walk, take new rutes, and go some where new. I love the nature and being there is a place for ME to RELAX, Think of the better days of the past, and plan new days to chalange of life. TIme has not been to long since then. So far im doing OK, I know I have lots to do. Keeping busy helps me, Distracts me, I have to take CARE OF ME!!!!. TIME WILL TELL, STEP 4 STEP, ther is something NEW around every corner, all you need to do IS GET THERE!!!

anonymous Feb 18, 2015 6:19am

I really love this article. Question, though… How did you learn to become your own best friend? That’s something I’ve always struggled with, and I’d love to be able to do so, but I don’t know how.

anonymous Jan 25, 2015 8:06am

What happens next..!!!!

anonymous Sep 11, 2014 12:25pm

I find excerise to be great at combating loneliness. I found myself alone and feeling alone when I separated for my wife of 17 years. The gym was a great escape.

anonymous Jun 27, 2014 11:14pm

Thanks a lot for your suggestions. It's nice to see that someone differentiates being alone with being lonely. The two are absolutely NOT the same thing. You can easily feel lonely in a room full of people…even if you're volunteering your time. Loneliness is a state of mind, a state that you and only you can control. Being in touch with yourself is the only way to alleviate these feelings. However, if you feel alone, by all means, just go out and spend time with other community members or whatnot. Again, thank you Jennifer for the article.

anonymous Jun 2, 2014 9:33pm

Thanks, i feel so lonely right now, i feel no one understand me, and no one supported me, not even my mother..

anonymous Mar 23, 2014 12:54am

Nice list, but I beg to differ. All these are escape mechanisms on how not to just be by yourself. Of course, healthier alternatives than drinking or spend time stuck watching TV. But as someone has also posted above, you came to this world alone and you will leave it alone, so make peace with your being alone rather than escaping it by doing something. So what’s the best way to address it? Meditate! Sit down, or lay on your back and just watch. Sooner or later, the ugly loneliness will turn to beautiful aloneness. ( disclaimer:I admit I do some of the stuff you mentioned above and even unhealthy ones, like spending hours on the net, when I feel lonely. What I wrote above what I believe is the best way to deal with it;-)

anonymous Nov 30, 2013 6:23pm

I AGREE with all of the above and Go for a Dip in the Sea, Pray, Find your Passion, And Be Grateful.. Thank you for a Great Article:)))

anonymous Nov 30, 2013 12:51pm

Best remedies for loneliness: (1) Be the company for another (2) Volunteer on behalf of complete strangers.

anonymous Nov 7, 2013 6:11pm

ive been advised to never get a haircut when you are feeling sad lol

anonymous Nov 7, 2013 4:48pm

Nice article well written ‘karmicly’ the best way to not feel lonely is help someone else to not be lonely. Visit a nursing home, volunteer at a soup kitchen, talk to the homeless. Join a non profit organization. The I inverse will diminish your loneliness.

anonymous Nov 7, 2013 4:41pm

What if you've exhausted all of the above and still feel a tinge of loneliness?

anonymous Oct 24, 2013 4:53pm

Sorry guess I don't see how these help… After taking a bath, watching a movie, or getting a haircut, wont you still be lonely after about 1-3 hours those take?
I do agree with Stepanie though that God is always with us the.

anonymous Sep 14, 2013 7:13pm

P.s. we are never alone God is always there …omnipresent…

anonymous Sep 14, 2013 7:08pm

I didn’t come into the world alone my mom was there… and she didn’t go out of it alone I was there !!

anonymous Sep 2, 2013 6:49am

i love you

anonymous May 28, 2013 11:54am

We have to admit that we came to this earth alone and we will leave this earth alone too. All we are having is now and is an experience by playing this game of life. Just be simple and easy on yourself, enjoy the time with or without companies. 🙂

    anonymous Jul 27, 2014 12:27pm

    I really love your comment. I'm gonna print it out and hang it in my room…very inspiring! You deserve to have your quote put in some famous quote website or something. This really cheered me up. 🙂 BTW: Jennifer White I read and love all your articles! Elephant Journal is always a privilege to read everyday. 🙂

anonymous May 27, 2013 8:59am

Great article — recently republished in Elephant Journal. My wife and I recently moved to a new city. We have discovered Meetup – – a social media org. that acts to allow " organizers" to set up mutual interest groups that welcome folks to do things together. For examples, we have gone to mediation , small dog, and zoo outing Meetups so far in our new city of Grand Rapids , MI. I have found that the number of groups is in ratio to the size of the population base. You may wish to check it out for your own use and/or a subject of a essay/blog. If you do write about it , please let me know, so that I will not miss it.

anonymous May 26, 2013 12:58pm

Great ideas! But don't forget to volunteer your time….helping others is the best way to feel better!

anonymous May 26, 2013 11:52am

Yes, thank you….I do all those things, especially going for a walk in nature to feel connected. A boyfriend years ago once told me (as he was leaving me), 'How can you ever feel alone when the whole planet is simply crawling with life!'. Every square foot has countless of living organisims.
However, you sort of lost me within the first few phrases by using the term 'my husband'. If you have a partner, you are already one up; you have a soulmate, someone you can turn to, who (hopefully) is on your side, a sense of family. Yes, I know, partners are not always on-tap, and one needs other friends, other relationships, and sometimes a husband, like all relationships, can be hard work, but even when you are apart, you can just close your eyes and know that he is out there.
I lost my partner 8 years ago to cancer at a very young age. I truly know how loneliness feels. It sears and burns and aches, and I long to say, 'I am alone except for my partner'. I am able to distract myself using most of the things that you list above, smile a lot, have had a go at other relationships and am still open to this possibility, know some wonderful people, but at the end of the day, I go to bed alone, I wake up alone and I miss that sense of family of intimate connection.
Sometimes I am merely alone and sometimes I am lonely; there is a difference.

anonymous Feb 18, 2013 10:29pm

[…] is no loneliness. We sleep, wake and live in stride; from closeness we clash and at times we […]

anonymous Feb 12, 2013 5:56am

[…] day on which we proclaim our love seems to set up expectations that are all too often dashed with despair and loneliness or the feeling of somehow falling miserably […]

anonymous Feb 3, 2013 9:12pm

This is really a helpful article.
You can help people to connect with each other who feel lonely .
[email protected]

    anonymous Feb 4, 2013 5:27am

    Thank you for the feedback. I sincerely do hope it's helpful.

anonymous Feb 3, 2013 2:06pm

Jennifer, this was marvellous and the timing couldn't have been better for you to publish this article—at least with regards to my own life. I moved out of my childhood home—and hometown—last year, but I lived with two room-mates. Even though we rarely hung out and had interactions only when doing the laundry or making meals, I never realized how essential those interactions were in preventing loneliness that I had never experienced until now.

I just moved out on my own, and, for several weeks, I was feeling caught in spirals of negative thinking, in complete loss of confidence, in self-doubt, and profound sadness. Anytime I was around people, though, or doing any of the items you list here, I immediately felt better and could not remember what it felt like to be lonely. And the cycle would repeat itself.

I've found ways to incorporate social interactions into my day at least once, and I've done every one of the items you list above, save for the movie night (it's on my list! I'm a weirdo, too :)) and the bath (I don't have a bath tub. Haha). Thank you for this. You are wonderful and I hope that you evade loneliness always, all while enjoying and relishing your alone time when you have it. Blessings to you and yours.

    anonymous Feb 4, 2013 5:31am

    Thank you! Oh, I could write another list just for you. I lived on my own for a short period before I moved out west with my now-husband, and I learned a lot about myself in this regard then. (And I didn't have a bath tub in that apartment either!) Hmmm, one of my favorite things to do was to make tea and get special cookies and sit at my kitchen table by the window and really concentrate on the feel of the tea as I drank it (the special cookies just made me feel regal or something, I don't know 😉 I did also on occasion invite a good friend over for an old-fashioned sleep-over, and that was always a blast.

    I'm proud of you for realizing so early on in the game how this lack of interaction is affecting your attitude when you do interact with others. You're ahead! Good luck, hang in there, and feel empowered by your independence as often as you can!
    Blessings right back to you.

anonymous Feb 3, 2013 7:47am

[…] don’t deny missing home. I miss my family and I miss my friends. I miss the familiarity of friendly faces and the warmth of hugs and joyful smiles. But I’m doing […]

anonymous Jan 31, 2013 4:44am

If i'm lonely, i won't start an go take a walk… because i will feel even more lonelier ….. i think the solution to feeling lonely is just go and talk in the only community , games etc….

anonymous Jan 29, 2013 2:54pm

Love this article!! I rarely feel lonely, but still feel the ideas here are good for a persons general sense of well being. As she said, learning to be comfortable with yourself is always time well spent.

    anonymous Jan 29, 2013 3:23pm

    Thanks, Audra! I really appreciate your comments and thoughts. Isn't it funny that some of the best ways to spend time are alone? I think it's all about appreciating that, even when it's forced upon us by circumstance.

Shelley Abery Oct 22, 2018 10:37pm

I think you make some great suggestions here however, I totally agree with Julianne Masterson. And the quote you cited on entering the world and leaving the world alone is fairly pointless. We enter the world surrounded by people, and fortunate that I’m sure the majority of us are greeted with the loving hearts of both mother, father and extended family. It is the unwanted children that have a battle right from the start(imagine being in their shoes)but that is a whole other issue. As far as leaving the world, the mere thought of dying alone in your house with no one finding you for days, is something no one should be in a position of, so you may want to reconsider what you quote in the future.

Irene Chávez Aug 30, 2018 7:07pm

you read my mind. I was about to write a similar comment. I also do all these things mentioned in the article. I do them often and trust me I enjoy doing them a lot. But yesterday I had a horrible cramp, I was hungry. I just wanted a warm pair of arms around me. I can hug myself, I do actually. It is just not the same thing... :/

Norma Sosa Nov 24, 2017 12:33pm

We can't take this article as a 'fix' for not feeling alone. These are only strategies to manage those moments BUT to wake up to realize we DO NOT need someone else to fill my void. It is a long journey. From my personal experience, I used to "clam" a lot, often. Now, I am accepting myself, and I am able to be open, to connect. As Rumi says, 'Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.' Look inside.

Jenn Lor Jun 3, 2017 8:45pm

Thank you so much for sharing your poignant thoughts! I struggle with these feelings often and your article brought me comfort and gave me strategies to work through the feelings and couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Take care

Monika Evans Mar 28, 2017 8:08pm

I do, too. There is a vast difference between being alone temporarily and being alone and lonely for good.

Maria Squitieri Chassen Jul 18, 2016 12:03pm

Love this article. Your suggestions really do help tremendously. Thank you!

Brigita Larsen May 13, 2016 8:26pm

I'm guessing you lived in Taos:)

Julianne Masterson May 2, 2016 3:01am

You have a husband and a toddler. You have people. When you spend day after day and night after night completely alone, then you can write about loneliness. I have done and will continue to do everything on your list. As someone else who commented said, sometimes these things only make you feel more alone. These things might fill an empty hour or two and I do enjoy some solitude but true loneliness needs something that can feed your soul and that can't be found on any list. Friends, family, people and a connection to others, to love and be loved. That's much harder to but by than a visit to the library or a new haircut.