Twelve Solo Activities for Coping With Loneliness

Everyone feels lonely sometimes, even when they’re not alone. According to an advisory released by the surgeon general in May 2023, we’re in the midst of a loneliness epidemic, caused by an increased reliance on technology, less in-person time spent with friends, and declines in the number of close friends people report having.

The pandemic exacerbated these trends, the report found, and the consequences can be dire.

Research shows, for instance, that loneliness is linked to a higher risk of psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Loneliness is associated with physical repercussions as well. One study linked loneliness to chronic, systemic inflammation, which can increase your risk for a host of disorders, from cancer to neurodegenerative diseases.

And, while going out to meet a friend or joining a club to make new ones are the obvious recommendations for combating loneliness, cultivating solo practices to feel more connected is important too.

“Solo practices help to build our self-confidence, develop our internal sense of validation, and elevate overall self-reliance,” she says.

Here are some ideas for squashing loneliness — even when you’re by yourself.

1. Find an Online Exercise Class

To relieve feelings of loneliness when you can’t or don’t want to leave home, try participating in a home-based exercise class. Plus, being physically active prompts the release of brain chemicals such as neurotransmitters and endorphins, which can boost mood and ease depression symptoms.

2. Meditate

Even simple meditation techniques can make you feel less alone. One study found a two-week smartphone-based mindfulness training program reduced loneliness and increased feelings of social connection in daily life.

3. Practice Yoga

Yoga can boost both self-compassion and social connectedness, research shows.

Plus, one study found that within a month of starting a yoga program, participants with depression reported fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, along with better sleep quality.

4. Cook for Yourself

Spinelli said her clients have reported feeling less lonely when they cook for themselves. “It’s part of the ‘self-date’ experience where they are taking time to build a relationship with themselves and enjoy the small but meaningful details of the culinary process,” she said. People reported better moods and feelings of “flourishing” on the days after they took on more creative activity than usual.

5. Take Yourself Out on a Date

If cooking at home isn’t your idea of a fun solo date night, going out can do the trick too. Spinelli suggests finding a festival, dance class, gallery event, or concert where you can “feel like you are bonding with others with a common passion.”

Strike up a conversation while you’re there: Research shows small interactions with strangers can boost feelings of connection and happiness.

6. Get a Pet

Pets provide companionship, can give owners a sense of purpose and satisfaction, and help reduce feelings of loneliness. In a study published in the journal Aging and Mental Health, researchers analyzed data from 830 primary care patients age 60 and older. They found pet owners were 36 percent less likely than non–pet owners to report feelings of loneliness.

Even if you can’t have or don’t want a pet of your own, simply being around animals — maybe by volunteering at a shelter or offering to walk a friend’s dog — can decrease levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, lower blood pressure, reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost mood.

7. Plant a Garden

Research from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) found that filling a front garden with just a few plants reduces stress, and can make you feel happier, more relaxed, and closer to nature. “Those suffering from loneliness and other mental health issues found it especially uplifting and motivational,” the lead researcher said, according to the RHS.

With gardening, the added benefit of being in sunshine — weather permitting — can improve mood.

8. Volunteer

Plenty of research has linked volunteering to reduced loneliness. A study published in 2023 that looked at 5,000 adults ages 60 and older found that volunteering more than 100 hours per year was associated with a lower risk of loneliness. Another study found that among those who have been widowed, starting to volunteer two or more hours per week is related to reduced loneliness.

9. Read a Book

One study describes how becoming engrossed in a book character’s story can shift your mood and move your thoughts in a new — and better — direction. More specifically, the study authors argue that psychologically stepping into someone else’s shoes can enhance feelings of belonging and connection.

10. Listen to Music

Love a good song? Music can ease both loneliness and depression. A study published in the journal Music & Science found that participants reported feeling less lonely after listening to their personal music, regardless of their mood state.

11. Use Technology to Connect

Communicating with others virtually is easier than ever. Video chat platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, FaceTime, and others allow you to connect with friends and family all over the world when you feel lonely or down. One study shows that isolated elderly adults felt less lonely when they used these tools, which then led to better self-rated health, fewer chronic illnesses, higher well-being, and fewer depressive symptoms.

There are also online art classes and cooking classes that allow you to learn and interact with others even if they don’t physically live nearby.

12. Write in a Journal

Journaling decreases stress, research shows. It can also help with loneliness by identifying its root.

“Leaning into the discomfort of acknowledging and understanding those feelings isn’t easy, but an integral part of moving through the loneliness is first understanding it and identifying whether it is situational or stems from a broader life issue,” she said.

If the feelings of loneliness are lasting and disrupting your daily functioning, or related to something like grief from a recent loss, working with a mental health professional can help.


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5 Responses to Twelve Solo Activities for Coping With Loneliness

  1. Iyanuoluwa Isinkaye December 17, 2023 at 6:53 am

    Well appreciated

  2. Rachael December 17, 2023 at 7:24 am

    More people should see this.
    It’ll really help a lot.

  3. Maryam December 19, 2023 at 8:31 am

    Thanks for this

  4. Ibukunoluwa December 21, 2023 at 6:26 am

    Nice tips.

  5. Adegbola Opeyemi December 29, 2023 at 8:26 am

    Thank you


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