By Gill Hasson, author of Lonely Less: How to Connect with Others, Make Friends and Feel Less Lonely
Anyone, no matter what their job, age, gender or culture – can have times when they feel lonely – a sense of being disconnected from others. Although you may have colleagues, clients and customers and your days are full – with both work and family commitments – you may still feel you are lacking good quality connections with other people outside of these two groups.
Perhaps there are particular circumstances or situations that leave you feeling lonely. Are there times of the week or the day when you feel more lonely than other times? The weekends or evenings perhaps?
The good news is that there are people who are open to meeting others and making friends too. You’ve just got to find them. It takes effort on your part; you need to be willing to meet others, to be yourself and give something of yourself.
But where to start? Start with your interests. When you have interests and activities you enjoy, you can meet and join in with people with similar interests. Whether it’s playing or watching a sport, a creative activity or an enjoyment of arts and culture, getting together with people who like and enjoy the same things as you makes it easier for you to talk to them and make friends because you’ve already got something in common; you share similar interests and values.
Have a look at www.meetup.com which enables people to find and join groups of other people in their local area who share each other’s interests. There are Meetup groups to fit a wide range of interests and hobbies, plus others you’ll never have thought of.
As well as the Meetup groups, there are Apps that help people connect with others; Here’s a few that you might like to try out.
Peanut www.peanut-app.io/ – an app for Mums to meet other Mums.
Volunteering for a cause or local community initiative that interests you is another way to connect with other people. You can find out about volunteering opportunities near to you by visiting you local volunteer centre or visiting www.volunteering.org.uk and www.ncvo.org.uk/
Join associations, Facebook groups and other social media groups for others who work in the same profession / industry as you, and attend conferences, and training. Connecting with others in this way can provide support and sharing of ideas.
On work days, do take a proper lunchbreak. If you work from home, there’s probably other people – neighbours, family or friends – nearby who also work from home. Arrange to meet up with those people. Meet for a short walk, a sandwich in the park, a snack in a cafe or pub.
Although you don’t want to come across as pushy or needy, to get to know someone better and make friends, you have to reach out but be prepared to risk rejection. But, by gathering up a bit of courage and taking those first few steps, new people and acquaintances can become friends.
Simply take initiative and suggest something simple and enjoyable to do together. You don’t have to invite just one person. If you know a two or three people from a particular place – work, a club or Meetup group you go to – organise something you could all do together. In fact, one of the easiest ways to make new friends and expand your social circle is to meet your friends’ friends. So ask a friend to invite one or two of their friends to join you the next time you do something together.
Focus on the positive; remind yourself what is it that you want; to connect with and get to know other people – people that you like and who like you.This can give you the motivation and courage you need to get to know other people and build new friendships.
Gill Hasson is the author of Lonely Less: How to Connect with Others, Make Friends and Feel Less Lonely (published by Capstone, June 2021). She has 20 years’ experience teaching and writing on a range of issues to do with personal and professional development, mental health and wellbeing. She is the author of more than 22 books; the bestselling Mindfulness, Mindfulness Pocketbook, Emotional Intelligence, Positive Thinking, the Sunday Times bestseller How To Deal With Difficult People, plus other books on the subjects of resilience, communication skills, assertiveness, and Careers. Follow: @gillhasson