Feeling lonely? Here are 5 healthy ways to deal with it.

While loneliness is typically a feeling that many people experience during the winter holidays, the summer months do not escape its wrath. Truth is, many people travel or alter their schedules during the summer, and that leaves them particularly vulnerable to feelings of loneliness, depression and despair. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of boredom or not having enough to do. Often it results from being away from friends and loved ones. Whatever the case, if you’re feeling lonely or isolated this summer, these healthy tips may help.

  • Engage with others. If this seems easier said than done, begin by adopting an approach that works for you. For instance, you may want to enroll in a class where you will be with others who share similar interests, such as painting, dancing or any hobby of your choice. If volunteering is your thing, chances are good that you’ll meet individuals who share your passion. It takes a certain amount of effort to reach out and connect with others, but it goes a long way toward fighting off the feelings of loneliness.
  • Think about someone besides yourself. This one is difficult, especially since loneliness and depression are self-absorbing by nature. But it’s important to shake the inward feelings of despair and realize that it’s not all about you. The best way to handle this is to focus on the needs of others. Remember that there are other people in the world who may be feeling lonely as well. When you go out of your way to brighten someone else’s day, you will likely improve your own mood in the process.
  • Confide in someone you trust. If you’re feeling lonely and blue, talk to a friend or loved one who can provide positive feedback. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest in the midst of all the trees, and another perspective may be able to shed some light on the situation. At best, this person could potentially share some ideas for how to connect with others.
  • Establish some realistic expectations. If you’re still stewing about the friend who turned down your invitation to have coffee, realize that it probably wasn’t about you at all. She may have had an unexpected scheduling conflict, and now she’s looking forward to another invite. At the same time, it helps to realize that not every relationship you establish will evolve into a best friend forever. There’s a place in life for casual acquaintances.
  • Don’t give up. Loneliness is not something you can cure overnight. In fact, it requires a sustained effort on your part. Accept the fact that there will be some bumps in the road, but don’t take this as a sign to give up. Instead, do your best to remain optimistic. However, if time goes by and you feel like things aren’t working, it’s okay to adopt a different approach.

While it’s true that all of us experience feelings of loneliness from time to time, there are instances when you may need to seek the help of a mental health professional. Developing social relationships is integral to your well being, so don’t hesitate to seek professional help when necessary.

David Lowenstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist and the clinical director of Lowenstein & Associates, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to providing therapeutic services to individuals and families, he offers training and consultation to numerous associations, schools and agencies around the country. Additionally, he is a frequent radio and TV guest and a resource and contributing writer for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide.