Are you lonely?

By David Joel Miller.

Some tools to combat loneliness.


Photo courtesy of Flickr (Richo.Fan)

This is a time of the year when loneliness walks among us and it can swallow up the unwary. There are more people than ever on the earth, the stores are packed and yet one place loneliness lurks is in the crowd.

Loneliness is a major cause of relapse, relapse to drug and alcohol use, relapse to depression, relapse on any part of your recovery.

Feeling lonely is not about the number of people in your world. It is about the connections you have with those people. As we get older it becomes harder to make new friends. Over the holiday’s everyone is so very busy. It is easy to become isolated – then depressed.

This time of year people are prone to start evaluating their relationships. Are they what you want? Some family dinners will be full of love, others will be full of recrimination and fault-finding. More that as few will be drunken brawls.

Your romantic relations may be under strain. You might look around and see presumably happy couples and we wonder if your relationship measures up. When we are lonely we can easily believe it is our partner or our families fault.

What are some ways to defeat loneliness if you find yourself feeling alone in your relationship or lonely in the crowd?

1. Get out of your routine.

It is easy to stay home and avoid situations where others will be around. We call that isolating. It is a symptom of depression. It can also be a cause of sadness and depression. Getting out and mingling is a good way to put yourself in contact with others if only for a while.

Try to do this with a hopeful attitude. Expect to talk to others and to make connections.

2. Reach out to someone else.

One really fast way to make new friends is to reach out to others. Put your hand out and introduce yourself. Say something kind or nice to someone around you.

Start a conversation with someone about where you are or what you are doing.

3. Spend time at a fellowship.

If you are a member of a religious group make it a priority to attend their functions this holiday. When there participate in something.

If you are in recovery attend a 12 step or other support group meeting. In many places, there are “Alchathons” or marathon meetings. These meetings occur every hour round the clock and provide a safe place for people in recovery to hang out over the holidays and not be alone in their own heads.

4. Reconnect with old friends.

Call someone you haven’t talked with in a while. Send out some emails. Do not let yourself dwell on the people who do not respond or who do not have time to talk. Focus on those people who stop and talk with you.

5. Reach out to someone else who may be feeling down and lonely.

In twelve steps groups, the advice is to call one other recovering person each day. That provides support for you in times of need. You may also find that other person needed the call even more than you did.

6. Do something nice for someone else.

Reaching out to others to help them – be of service – this can make you feel connected to others and far less lonely.

How will you defeat loneliness this holiday season? Do you have any other suggestions, not on my list?

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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3 thoughts on “Are you lonely?

  1. Pingback: Are you lonely? | MadeleineMaya

  2. Hi David,
    I was wondering if you could expand on this idea of deep, inner core loneliness. What are root causes that should addressed? Childhood issues, trauma, rejection…etc., and what are some ways to work through these issues? Also, could you expand on finding inner peace and a way to feel comfortable in your own skin? I love your blog and really appreciate the sharing of your expertise.
    Kim S.


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