What to do if you’re feeling lonely and unhappy with your single life

Loneliness can creep up on us in the most unexpected of moments, coloring our world in hues of solitude that feel more like a prison than the freedom we once sought in singleness.

You might gaze at your reflection in the mirror, feeling the weight of an empty house or a silent phone heavier than ever before. Or perhaps you question if this gnawing sense of isolation and discontentment is just a phase or something more profound.

How do you distinguish between the normal ebb and flow of single life and a deeper dissatisfaction that needs addressing?

Drawing from my experiences and those of countless others who’ve navigated through the choppy waters of singleness, I’ve compiled a guide to help you discern what you’re feeling. 

In this piece, we’ll explore actionable steps towards understanding your feelings and working towards a happier, more fulfilled life.

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings

Often the first hurdle in dealing with loneliness and unhappiness is admitting that these feelings exist.

You might be tempted to dismiss them as temporary moods or even to mask them with a flurry of activity. But just as a wound neglected can fester, ignoring your emotions can lead to a deeper sense of dissatisfaction or even a mental condition.

In the quiet moments, when we allow ourselves to really feel, we might notice a hollowness that’s hard to define.

It might be an ache when you see couples holding hands in the park, or a pang when your friends discuss their romantic plans. These are not signs of weakness, but rather signals from your heart that something needs addressing.

Acknowledging your feelings is not about wallowing in self-pity. It’s about being honest with yourself, giving your emotions validity and space.

It’s the first step towards understanding your loneliness and unhappiness, and ultimately towards healing and finding joy in your single life.

The next step is learning more about yourself…

2. Seek Self-Understanding

Once you’ve acknowledged your feelings, the next step is to understand them.

Loneliness and unhappiness are complex emotions that can stem from a variety of sources. Sometimes they can be triggered by external events like a breakup, or internal factors like low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy.

Take some time to introspect, to dive deep into the well of your emotions.

Ask yourself hard questions:

  • Is there a specific event that has sparked these feelings?
  • Are there areas in your life where you feel incomplete or unsatisfied?
  • Are there unfulfilled dreams or aspirations that might be adding to your unhappiness?

Understanding the ‘why’ behind your emotions is crucial.

It’s like finding the source of a river – once you know where it begins, you can start to navigate its course.

This journey of self-understanding can be challenging and even uncomfortable at times, but it’s a necessary step towards finding happiness in your single life.

Remember however, that you don’t have to do it alone…

3. Build a Support System

In my own journey through loneliness and unhappiness, one of the most transformative steps I took was building a strong support system.

For a while, I found myself shying away from social interactions, believing that my feelings of isolation were a burden I didn’t want to impose on others.

One evening, as I sat alone in my apartment, it dawned on me that I was amplifying my loneliness by shutting people out.

The next day, I made a call to an old friend, shared my feelings and was met with empathy and understanding. That phone call was the beginning of a new chapter in my life.

Our relationships with friends, family, or mentors can provide us with emotional sustenance, perspective, and encouragement when we most need it.

They can give you a sense of belonging and remind you that you’re not alone in your experiences.

Reach out to the people in your life who have shown you love and kindness. Share your feelings with them and allow them to share theirs with you. Let them be your safe harbor amidst the stormy seas of loneliness and unhappiness.

Building a support system doesn’t mean you’re dependent on others for your happiness.

It simply means acknowledging that as human beings, we thrive on connection and that it’s okay to lean on others when the road gets tough.

Now, there’s a surprising one…

4. Cultivate a Healthy Lifestyle

Our physical health and mental well-being are intricately linked.

Prolonged feelings of loneliness and unhappiness can often lead to stress, which in turn affects our overall health. Conversely, taking care of our physical health can have a positive impact on our emotional state.

Aerobic exercises such as running or cycling release endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters.

Regular physical activity can reduce anxiety, depression, and improve your mood. Even twenty minutes a day can make a significant difference.

Similarly, a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains provides the nutrients necessary for our brain to function properly. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon and tuna have been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Cultivating a healthy lifestyle is not just about looking good.

It’s about treating your body with respect and care, giving it the nourishment it needs to support your journey towards happiness.

It’s about understanding that your body is the vehicle for your soul and deserves to be taken care of with the same love and attention you give to your emotional well-being.

But what if, despite a healthy lifestyle, negative emotions persist?

5. Practice Mindfulness

I remember a time when my feelings of loneliness and unhappiness were overwhelming.

I felt as though I was trapped in a cycle of negative thoughts, unable to escape. It was during this period that I stumbled upon the practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the act of being fully present in the moment, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, without being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s happening around us.

At first, it seemed daunting, but as I began to practice, I found a certain peace in the stillness.

I started with just five minutes a day, sitting quietly and focusing on my breath.

I learned to observe my thoughts without judgment, allowing them to come and go like clouds in the sky.

Over time, this practice helped me become more attuned to my emotions and gave me the space to respond to my feelings of loneliness and unhappiness rather than react impulsively.

The beauty of mindfulness is that it can be practiced anywhere and at any time.

It’s about bringing awareness to our experiences, learning to live in the present rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. For me, it was a game-changer on my journey towards finding happiness in my single life.

And often, being present makes us realize we’ve let go of our passions…

6. Pursue Your Interests

In my quest to dissolve the cloud of loneliness and unhappiness, I discovered the power of pursuing my interests.

I had always enjoyed painting but had let this hobby slide in the hustle of life. One day, I picked up a paintbrush and let my feelings flow on the canvas. The sense of fulfillment I got from creating something was profound.

Engaging in activities that you love can help take your mind off your feelings of loneliness and provide a sense of accomplishment.

It could be anything from hiking, cooking, writing to volunteering at a local shelter.

Engaging in new activities rekindles joy and can even introduce you to new social circles.

But when passions and hobbies aren’t enough, it might be time to consult an expert.

7. Seek Professional Help

There was a point when despite trying everything, my feelings of loneliness and unhappiness persisted.

That’s when I decided to seek professional help. Therapists and counselors are trained to help you navigate through your emotions and provide strategies to cope with them.

Consulting a mental health professional is not a sign of weakness; rather, it’s a step towards taking charge of your mental health. It is a courageous act.

You don’t have to go through this journey alone – there are professionals available who can provide the support and guidance you need.

And while they provide tools, the love for oneself remains an inside job.

8. Practice Self-Love

Learning to love myself was perhaps the most significant step towards resolving my feelings of loneliness and unhappiness.

I started by appreciating my own company, treating myself with kindness, patience, and compassion.

Self-love is about accepting yourself as you are, flaws and all.

It’s about understanding that it’s okay to be single, it’s okay to feel lonely, and it’s okay to be unhappy at times.

What’s important is that you don’t lose sight of your worth during these moments.

Loving oneself is the cornerstone of true happiness. But self-love also means accepting the unpredictable nature of life.

9. Embrace Change

Change is inevitable – it’s the one constant in our lives.

When I embraced this concept, I realized that my current state of loneliness and unhappiness was not permanent. I saw it as a phase, a part of my journey towards growth and self-discovery.

Embracing change means understanding that nothing is permanent and that with time, your circumstances and feelings will change.

It’s about being open to new experiences, opportunities, and relationships that come your way.

Life is ever-changing, and so are our emotions. Through highs and lows, gratitude provides balance.

10. Cultivate Gratitude

Lastly, cultivating gratitude helped me put things into perspective. Instead of focusing on what I lacked, I began to appreciate what I had – good health, supportive friends, a fulfilling job.

Practicing gratitude can shift your focus from what’s wrong in your life to what’s right. It can help you realize that even though you might be single and occasionally feel lonely or unhappy, there are many aspects of your life worth celebrating.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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