Just because introverts recharge their energy in solitude doesn’t mean they don’t ever get lonely.
There seems to be this idea that just because introverts recharge in solitude, we don’t ever get lonely. But this is far from the truth. We are all human and we all can suffer from loneliness.
In fact, as introverts, we may be more likely to experience this longing for connection because we feel so misunderstood in a society designed for extroverts. Add the fact that social interactions leave us exhausted, and you have the perfect recipe for impending loneliness.
Here are a few techniques to combat loneliness as an introvert.
5 Ways Introverts Can Combat Loneliness
1. Capitalize on routines and schedules to prevent loneliness.
Perhaps the most effective way to combat loneliness is to build routines into your day — and most introverts will tell you they love their routines. I know, it sounds counterintuitive. (Personally, I recoil at the thought of a soul-sucking schedule.) But, that said, loneliness creeps in primarily during unstructured time. So by filling your calendar with positive activities, you can make significant strides in improving your well-being.
Now, I’m not saying you need to go overboard and turn yourself into an extrovert, but by implementing a few positive habits, you can grab some low-hanging fruit. For me, I like to schedule in time for the (home) gym, as well as a few hours every weekend for creative time. (Creative space is important to us introverts!) Plus, these calendar blocks prevent my colleagues from squeezing more time out of me than I can handle, and that gives me more time to recharge and feel my best.
One way to think about these routines is as a preventative measure for your loneliness. Schedule and build routines around the things you love, whether that’s working out, reading, or even meal prep. If you give yourself some healthy chores, you get a two-for-one: You will be less lonely, and you will have picked up some healthy hobbies, too!
2. Build a list of ways to fill your time.
If schedules really aren’t your thing, you can still build a more free-form structure to combat loneliness. By creating a list of activities you love doing, you can lower the friction when it comes to pulling yourself out of a lonely mindset. Oftentimes, these negative feelings grow when we are bored or feeling like we have nothing to do.
What I’ve done is created a (dorky) list of activities that are mapped to external factors. For instance, if it is rainy out, I have a few indoor activities that I know make me feel good. Here is my list of activities based on weather:
Nice, sunny weather?
- Head to the park (and bring your guitar!) or go for a hike (make sure to journal, too!)
- Get fishin’ or explore a new river
- Wander around a new area and people-watch
Rainy, but energetic?
- Hit up a cafe and do some writing
- Skype or Zoom with a friend
- Surf the web and do some research
Tired or stuck at home?
- Read a book
- Listen to music and journal
- Watch a movie
This list is a tried and true method for me to hijack my negative emotions and fall into an activity that I know will pick up my mentality and put me in a better mindset. For example, today is an especially rainy day, and so what started as lonely journaling grew into a motivated feeling of writing. A cup of coffee later, and here I am, writing this article.
By mapping some activities to fill your time, you empower yourself to control your loneliness 0 s. So think about what would go on your list… and start making it.!
3. Harness “lazy” hobbies, such as reading, for the darker moments.
Did you notice how I have a section in my list for tired moods? Well, this is incredibly intentional! During moments of extreme introvert exhaustion, high-energy activities can sometimes be the last thing that any of us introverts need.
For times like these, when the loneliness and negative emotions may feel overbearing, find a couple ways to cozy up and find some ways to rejuvenate. For me, slipping into a really great book does the trick.
Odds are, when you pass some time in a more rejuvenating fashion, you will still be facing that loneliness. But by allowing yourself some space and time to recharge a bit, you will likely have more energy to face it with some of the other techniques mentioned in this article.
Give yourself permission to feel down. Give yourself permission to do nothing. Give yourself permission to recharge. You’ll be back on your feet in no time!
4. Spend time in public spaces, like the dog park.
Once you do have more energy, another counter-intuitive trick that I’ve found to help curb loneliness is to spend time in public spaces. By frequenting places where casual run-ins with others happen, you can find a hybrid of solitude and social interaction. A quick hello and conversation at the counter while ordering a coffee can do wonders.
I personally have fallen in love with cafes and off-leash dog parks. The interactions are almost guaranteed to be short and non-exhausting, and at the dog parks, you get to interact with some fantastic furry friends! (After all, animals are an introvert’s best friend.) I hate small talk as much as the next introvert, but the purposeful conversations of ordering a coffee or saying hello to a dog can alleviate the burden of social interactions and tremendously improve loneliness.
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5. Write letters to yourself and others — it’ll alleviate loneliness and promote connection.
Finally, perhaps one of my favorite tools for overcoming loneliness is writing letters. Depending on your mood, you can take a couple of routes here.
If you’re feeling especially introspective, try writing a letter to yourself about a particular time or event in life that you found exciting or challenging. Work through the event in detail, and highlight to yourself what you learned, how you grew, and what you are grateful for. This exercise helps reframe your state of mind and can actually reinforce the learning that you write about — and you can find companionship with your younger self.
The other types of letters that I am a big fan of are to friends or pen-pals. Writing a good friend a letter helps to reaffirm the connection, and subconsciously reminds you that you aren’t alone, after all. Letter writing also has the benefit of giving us introverts extra time to think, feel, and process what we are trying to communicate. Not only do we introverts prefer to think things through, but we also prefer writing to speaking — so this is a win-win! There is something so satisfying with this old form of connection, and I encourage you to give it a shot.
There Is No Magical Solution for Loneliness, But Plenty of Tools to Help You Through It
I’d be lying to you if I said that there was a magic solution that always worked for curing loneliness for us introverts. Truth is, we are complex individuals who perceive and experience the world in a visceral fashion. We see and feel things that most others don’t, and that can make the loneliness struggle even more challenging. But, luckily, there are a number of small tricks that we can keep in our back pocket. They certainly won’t always work in every scenario, but they are tools that can make the good moments great and the impossible moments bearable.
The last piece of advice I will leave you with is: Don’t be so hard on yourself, introvert. Everyone, and I mean everyone, struggles with loneliness from time to time. It is a part of being human. Give yourself the time and space you need to recharge, and remember, when the time is right, you are surrounded by a loving, global community of fellow introverts right here… and here.
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