Pushing Back Against Feelings of Loneliness
Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.
If you find yourself craving human interaction but also feel like you’re having a hard time bonding with others, you may be lonely. Loneliness means more than being alone—you can be in a room full of people and still feel lonely. How do we combat feelings of loneliness to have a more fulfilled life?
In this session, Dr. Lisa Coyne discusses how to manage loneliness and embrace alone time and answers questions about feeling lonely.
- What are the differences between being lonely and being bored? Why is it important to have social connections? What does it mean to be alone versus being lonely?
- Is it okay to isolate yourself because you feel that your problems are a burden for those that you’re close to or care about?
- What’s the tipping point from having healthy alone time into when it’s a warning sign to seek help for mental health?
- How can you start to enjoy your own company and respect your own alone time? How can you be more comfortable being yourself and spending time by yourself?
- What if we’re the person that’s always helping other people, but we don’t know how to ask for help ourselves? People may not want to be seen as weak or needy, even when they do need something. How do we get started asking for help for ourselves?
- Can you talk about caretakers, whether for partners or for other loved ones? Caretaker roles can be so difficult, whether it’s elderly, small kids, or someone who needs constant care. What can caretakers do if they get depressed and feel alone without social contact?
- How would you respond to a patient or anyone if they say they don’t want to ruin the mood by sharing their sad/anger emotions with their friends because it’s been a long time since they’ve seen each other?
- I am an introvert. However, a close friend, who is a real extrovert, lost her full-time job and has been having a very difficult time. She leans on me a lot, and that’s very hard to manage. What advice can I give her to seek professional help or to share her burdens with other friends/family too?
- What advice can I offer to a patient who was involved in a scandal and is now feeling publicly ostracized and lonely?
- My very introverted freshman is on campus and having trouble meeting peers even though they live on the same floor. They have always had problems making friends, but were looking forward to the campus experience. What advice do you have?
- Many of my friends are now married or thinking about having children. This is likely not in the cards for me (and I’m fine with this), but I worry about getting left behind. I’m an introvert, and I don’t think I’ve made a new friend in the last five years. How will I not be lonely when friendship becomes a lower priority for my current friends? Any thoughts or advice?
- Does depression lead to loneliness? How do I really feel connected when I’m feeling depressed?
- How does the feeling of emptiness relate to loneliness? How can we address emptiness?
- Are there any specific strategies for addressing loneliness when many of the usual strategies, like engaging in activities and spending time with loved ones, are not available to, or safe for, us?
- How does someone combat loneliness if they don’t have many friends and family relationships are a trigger for their mental illness? Any advice for someone that doesn’t have strong family relationships?
The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.
You may also find this information helpful:
- 4 Steps to Walk Away From Loneliness
- The Happiness Trap
- Stop Avoiding Stuff – Book by Matthew S. Boone, Jennifer Gregg, and Lisa W. Coyne
- Be Mighty – Book by Jill Stoddard
- Not Alone Notes
About Dr. Coyne
Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, part-time, at Harvard Medical School and a senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) at McLean Hospital.
Dr. Coyne has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on anxiety, OCD, and parenting. She is the author of “The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years,” a book for parents of young children.
Recent books by Dr. Coyne:
- Stuff That’s Loud: A Teen’s Guide to Unspiraling When OCD Gets Noisy
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: The Clinician’s Guide for Supporting Parents
- The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years
Learn more about Dr. Coyne.
It’s important to think about ways to manage your mental health. McLean is committed to providing mental health and self-care resources for all who may need them. You and your family may find these strategies from McLean experts helpful to feel mentally balanced in your everyday lives.
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