At one point or another, we all have felt lonely. That transient state can make us feel distressed or discontent with our current situation. It often happens when we’re craving human connections or social interactions. Many experienced it during lockdowns in the COVID-19 pandemic, but it happened way before. One study suggests that in 2018 at least 22% of adults in the United States struggled with loneliness.
Unfortunately, some people turn to substances like alcohol to numb or get their minds off like many other uncomfortable feelings. Eventually, both can become chronic and can lead to many problems as alcohol is only a temporary form of relief anyways.
If you or someone you know deals with loneliness, keep reading for ways to cope with it without reaching for alcohol or any other substance.
5 Ways to Cope With Loneliness Without Alcohol
If you are experiencing loneliness, remember you are not alone. At least three out of every ten adults in the country are experiencing it. Fighting loneliness involves practicing and strengthening your emotional resilience to improve your quality of life without reaching for substances. Below are five ways to cope with loneliness without alcohol.
1. Acknowledge Feelings of Loneliness
One of the first steps to face this is to realize what you feel and how much impact it has on your personal life. Take time to understand your feelings and recognize your current emotional state. Talk to a friend, a counselor, or a therapist about how you’re feeling. A heartfelt talk with someone can help you see the whole picture. Let them know about your tendency to reach for alcohol as a coping mechanism. While you might not have developed an addiction, acknowledging that your drinking habits are unhealthy is the first step to dealing with the situation.
2. Practice Gratitude Through Volunteering
There are many ways you can contribute to society. Volunteer activities have been shown to reduce stress and feelings associated with depression and help build new interpersonal relationships, connect with others, and significantly contribute to being happier. Try some of these activities when you want to volunteer:
- Visit nursing homes or special care centers
- Become a volunteer at a children’s hospital
- Read stories to children in their schools
- Work a few hours in a community kitchen
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
3. Join a Class
Find a class, club, or group you feel connected to. It could be a book club, gym, exercise class, or art class. Being part of these groups will expose you to a group of people who share one of your interests. Joining these groups will help you develop a sense of belonging, stimulate creativity, and also give you something to look forward to during the day. All of these things can help stave off loneliness.
4. Practice Self-Care
In addition to trying to connect with other people, don’t ignore the impact of focusing on physical and mental health care. There are many ways you can invest time to feel more confident about yourself and combat loneliness. Exercise, keeping a healthy diet, focusing on your sleep, meditation, and more are some easy ways to practice self-care.
5. Try Journaling
If you don’t feel ready to talk to other people. A diary can be your best company here. You can write about your thoughts, feelings, and memories that impacted your life. Journaling can help with signs of anxiety, depression and even help you control your substance abuse. IT doesn’t have to be an elaborate process. Start by jotting down how your day went and work your way up to write about feelings, goals, dreams, and more.
The Link Between Loneliness & Substance Abuse
Loneliness is a risk factor for many health conditions. It can lead to poor sleep, unhealthy diet habits, and trigger substance abuse. People dealing with loneliness are more likely to binge drink and become dependent on alcohol. Over 65% of people who consider themselves heavy drinkers report feeling lonesome often or sometimes.
When to Seek Help
It should be noted that there comes a time when none of the ways we mentioned above work. It is time to seek help from professionals. Yes, we are talking about that moment when thoughts and ideas emerge that can be self-destructive, exposing your life or others to harm. There are specialized centers that will help you deal with these conditions and feelings that you can no longer control on your own.
If, at any moment, you start having suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideation, speak with a professional immediately. Likewise, when you notice your drinking habits become troublesome, it’s best to seek addiction treatment from an experienced rehab center. Recovery from addiction and managing feelings of loneliness is possible with the right support by your side.