I’ve covered some of this in my videos, but to put it simply, one has to make the effort to get out of feeling lonely. And if depression is also in play, that can be difficult. For some people, including myself, I had to get to a good place, emotionally, before I was ready to tackle my problems, including loneliness. Until I could get out of the depths of despair, I wasn’t ready to approach any other issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, or loneliness.
For some, perhaps their depression is more short-term and they need to ride it out while using coping skills to aid them during such a time. But for those of us who deal with chronic depression, seeing a therapist and medication may be necessary. Personally, once I was in a better head space, clear of the heaviest pain of my depression, I found I was ready to handle my loneliness.
If you’re dealing with depression and loneliness, it can be hard to break free of that place. But it is possible. I started working on reaching out and without realizing it, I was, to some degree, following the advice of the late John Cacioppo, a researcher of loneliness. He created a method called EASE. It stands for: Extend, Action Plan, Seek, and Expect. While you can read more by clicking the link, the basic gist is this:
Extend – Make an effort to put yourself out there, even for just an hour. Dip your toe in the water by volunteering or making small talk with a neighbor. This doesn’t have to be life-changing, just something simple that shows you’re making an effort.
Action Plan – Think about things you might enjoy doing and your strengths. Also, what do you have time to do? Come up with some places you may want to volunteer at, or activities you’d like to do (an intramural sports team, for example). In creating a plan, you put yourself in a position of power.
Seeking others – Once your action plan is in place, seek out others who may share your interests at the places at which you’ve chosen to take part. Start a conversation with them.
Expect the best – Taking charge of one’s mindset and expecting that good things can happen can be difficult, especially for those of us who are rather cynical or suffer from anxiety. However, studies have shown that when we open ourselves up to the possibility of connections, it can help. Expect good things and you might be surprised what happens.
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