To be fully transparent with you, this blog post has been on the books for a couple of months now – we’re talking pre-pandemic days, folks. Why? Because this is honestly something that a lot of us struggle with, whether we’re in the middle of a lockdown order or not.
Being so highly connected nowadays seems to be both a blessing and a curse – on one hand, connecting with the people we love the most from anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice is absolutely amazing and can really bring people together. But on the other hand, seeing what our childhood best friend is having for dinner, or how a former coworker is spending a Saturday night can sometimes be a little much. We can quickly start to feel the effects of FOMO, or, The Fear of Missing Out, which can easily start to make us feel pretty lonely.
Feeling Lonely? You’re Not Alone
If you’ve been feeling lonely, then you need to trust that you are not alone. In May of 2019, the American Psychological Association published an article by Amy Novotney discussing the risks of social isolation. The article referenced a survey of 20,000 US adults from 2018, where nearly half answered that they sometimes, or always, felt lonely. Feeling lonely from time-to-time is a pretty natural and common feeling. The concern, however, is when we’re feeling lonely often.
Loneliness can take a toll on both our mental and physical health, potentially leading to depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function and impaired immunity, to name a few. Therefore, it’s so incredibly important for us to reach out to the people we love the most if we’ve been feeling lonely.
It’s so easy to get caught up in all the busyness of day-to-day life, which can sometimes make it hard to stay in touch with the people we love. We may even find ourselves thinking about people throughout the day, wondering how they’re doing, only to move on with our day a moment or two later. But imagine, just for a second, if instead of just thinking about these people as they popped into your head, you actually took a minute or two to reach out to them and see how they were doing?
Chances are if there are people who pop into your head, that probably means that you’re popping into other people’s heads from time to time as well. When you start to reach out to the people you care about, not only will it help you realize how many people you have in your life, but it will also open the door for future conversations as well.
Now, it is important to remember that people are busy, and if you reach out to someone and they don’t respond, that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t actually interested in talking to you. Despite what social media may make it look like, everybody is going through something, and sometimes it can be harder to find the time to respond than others. So, when you’re reaching out to someone you may haven’t spoken with in awhile, sometimes it’s best just to open the door, say something nice, and leave it in their court to respond to you.
If you’re not sure what to say, try something simple, like:
“Hey _____, no need to respond, I know life is busy. I was just thinking about you (/a memory/an inside joke) and I just wanted to say that I’m super grateful to have you in my life. You’re a great friend (/mom/cousin/aunt/Nana), and I hope you have a great day, xo”
Whether you want to do a 1 week, 2 week, or 4 week challenge, make it a commitment to messaging someone different everyday (your best friend, your mom, your cousin, a friend from high school – get creative). Try not to plan out who you’re going to message ahead of time, and instead, simply wake up and message the person that pops into your head – a lot of the time, we seem to think about people for a reason. The purpose of this challenge is to remind you just how many people are out there that you care about. Life can get pretty busy, so there may be some days where you don’t get a response back – other days, you may end up talking to the person all day long. The important part is that you keep going and trust that there’s always power in kindness.
You Are Not Alone
The more you reach out to the people you love the most, the more you’ll start to realize just how many incredible people you truly have in your life. At the end of the day, even if you may be spending more time on your own, chances are that you’re never actually alone – sometimes you just need to reach out.
4 Ways to Reach Out
Easy, straightforward, to the point. Texting is always a great option as it’ll give you a place to write out and formulate your thoughts, while still providing an instant conversation. If you’re wanting to level up your text game, send a voice memo instead of a typical text.
There’s so much more to communication than just the contents of the message – in fact, there are a lot of studies that say that the words themselves are only about 7% of communication. When you read a text, you’re missing out on body language, tone, pitch, and emphasis, which is why your mood could directly reflect how you interpret a message. So, if you’ve been feeling lonely, sometimes it’s better to reach out through a phone call or a FaceTime date – it will allow you to have a more meaningful and fulfilling conversation.
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3. Write a Letter
Let’s face it, most of us don’t exactly write many letters, but there’s just something so special about putting pen to paper. If you’re wanting to reach out, and you’re okay without the instant response from a text or call, send a letter, card, or postcard. Sometimes the personal touch is just what you need to feel less alone.
4. Surprise Them
Sometimes the best way to feel less lonely and more connected to the people you love the most is through little acts of service and kindness. Surprise them with some flowers, baked treats, or even a homemade scrunchie or two – anything your heart desires. Often times it’s through doing things for others that reminds us that we are not alone.