Loneliness is an issue everyone faces from time to time, but recently, our collective sense of isolation has made the problem worse. A Harvard study from February 2021 shows that the pandemic, in addition to its obvious effects on physical health, has created an epidemic of loneliness. According to survey data, 36% of American adults now struggle with “serious loneliness.”
Another main takeaway from the study is the fact that 43% of young adults reported that no one in the past few weeks had “taken more than just a few minutes” to ask how they are doing in a way that made them feel like the person “genuinely cared.” One of the reasons behind this perceived lack of sincere human contact is the abundance of social media interaction.
Traditional social media, which is supposed to help people connect, can be a significant contributor to feelings of loneliness in our day and age. When it’s overused, it becomes an unsatisfactory replacement for truly rewarding relationships. Here are a few tips to help you stop scrolling, get out in the real world, and overcome those feelings of loneliness by making authentic connections.
#1. Reach out and reconnect with old friends
It happens—you and one or more of your friends haven’t been keeping in touch very often. Maybe your friendship was in a good place, and then the pandemic slowed everything down. That sense of stasis can be hard to resolve, and the best method for rekindling that friendship is easy to overthink.
If you want to reconnect with old friends, the best way to do it is by just reaching out. However, relying on the “Let’s grab a [insert beverage of choice] sometime” text can signal that you’re not very invested in actually seeing them. Instead, send a straightforward text where you propose concrete plans with a time and place.
#2. Get involved with a cause you care about
One of the best ways to meet new people who you’re likely to get along with is by pursuing a cause that speaks to your heart. You could join a group for feminist activism, a community of vegans promoting sustainable food practices and animal liberation, or a group of green thumbs who donate their time and skill to beautify public parks. Helping make the world a better place with people in your area is a surefire way to feel good about yourself, have a great time, and form meaningful bonds.
#3. Take up a new artistic hobby
The great thing about connecting with people through a mutual interest in art is that the opportunities are pretty much endless. Whether it’s drawing, painting, photography, writing, pottery, or something else that inspires you, getting creative is a wholesome way to get social.
#4. Join a professional organization
On average, people spend a third of their lives at work, so it’s not a bad idea to consider branching out your social circle among coworkers and other folks in your industry. If you’re a career-oriented individual, you can combine your work goals with your free-time socialization by joining a professional development or networking group in tech, entrepreneurship, teaching, filmmaking, or whatever field you’re in.
#5. Get active and join an exercise group
Let the endorphins flow! Getting outside of your comfort zone by working up a sweat in a group setting is a wonderful way to make friends while taking care of your body. Plus, everybody’s more relaxed and clear-minded after burning some calories and achieving that runner’s high. You really can’t go wrong here—you can opt for settings as intense as marathon training and group sports like soccer or more tranquil exercises like hiking and yoga.
#6. Join a group for socializing
Sometimes it’s nice to just cut to the chase. You want to meet some new people, chat, get to know each other, and make friends. Check out happy hour groups or the new sensation of speed-friending, which takes the structure of speed-dating and applies it to people seeking casual, platonic relationships with pals. You’ll meet a ton of new and interesting people in a short amount of time at these fun events!
#7. Be your own friend first
Listening to your own wants and needs is key before putting yourself out there. In general, it’s not a good idea to spend your time doing activities that don’t interest you just because you want to make friends. Instead, find an activity you’re passionate about and pursue it as often as you can—you’re bound to meet like-minded people along the way and friendship will follow! Don’t judge yourself too harshly if you haven’t met your BFF yet. These things take time.
If you can’t find people in your area engaging in your favorite pastime, you can easily create your own Meetup group and invite others to join you! If you need a little inspiration for your group’s theme, check out this list of book club alternatives. (Dessert club? Yes, please.)
Find events, join groups, and communicate with your people—from anywhere. Download the Meetup app today.
Last modified on November 8, 2022