On Loneliness.

plus my tips on how to combat it & connect with other people

I’ve been thinking a lot about loneliness lately.

I strongly believe that these days, despite being more connected than ever – we are all more lonely than ever.

It’s actually quite fascinating to me how social we are on social media yet how alone it all makes us in real life.

I looked up the word loneliness & found the definition via pretty interesting: “While common definitions of loneliness describe it as a state of solitude or being alone, loneliness is actually a state of mindLoneliness causes people to feel empty, alone, and unwanted.” It’s also a very normal human state of mind to feel lonely – after all, we are social creatures by design.

That said, I am someone who really cherishes being alone & I am alone quite often. I work from home and Erik has a very rigorous work schedule between long work hours & constant travel. It also took me a very long time to live with Erik – in fact, he is the first person I’ve ever lived with. I really, really love being alone.

However, that doesn’t keep me immune to being lonely & I am no stranger to loneliness.

I talked a bit about my personality here but it’s one that’s hard to connect with other people as I am extremely intense: both in my personality and with things I love / am interested in. I also miss social cues constantly & unintentionally come off as aloof, blunt, & cold. Social events are hard for me & really burn me out so I tend to sit them out – in turn, missing out on meeting new people. Not to mention, I am an extreme introvert & I LIKE to be alone, so I find myself accidentally isolating myself constantly. My personality is one I’ve learned to live with and actively working on “hacking”, but with it comes the loneliness.

So that was me being a bit vulnerable but it’s SO important to voice these feelings – especially if it makes anyone reading this relate & feel just a bit less alone.

So why is loneliness hitting us all more than ever?

SO MANY REASONS!!!

I think a lot of it is, indeed, social media. Instead of getting out or even experiencing boredom, we let our phones fill the void. But instead of savoring our surroundings, all we are seeing is noise – lots of it – and other people’s perfections / highlight reel. Erik sent me this article: The Glorious, Almost-Disconnected Boredom of My Walk in Japan and it really opened my eyes to this & one of the best things I read all year.

I also think these days, lots of value is placed on the achievement vs the process. It’s easy to be laboring over something you love and feel empty doing so because the end results or numbers is all that people want. OR vice versa, all you see are others’ end results, that the unglamorous grind isn’t shown and it makes you feel lonely in what you are doing. It’s all a very dangerous path because the process should be so rewarding rather than depleting, especially with things you love.

More times than not, we rarely join IRL organizations anymore & even nightclubs are going out of style and possibly going extinct. So many groups and clubs these days are online, whether it’s Facebook groups or online forums. Don’t get me wrong, those are fantastic ways to connect with people! But it’s an easy way to stay in vs getting out and connecting with people in real life. Back to the nightclub example, I was way into that in the 2000s & kind of early 2010s (important to note how different online & phones were in that period too). Sure, it was a bit of a ridiculous time BUT it was fun to get out of the house with other strangers who also got out of their house with the same goal to celebrate the night.

Loneliness is a hard thing to scale. If you aren’t sure where you stand, here is a helpful test. It’s the UCLA Loneliness scale developed by psychologist Daniel Russell with 20 questions to assess loneliness and disconnection.

I am HUGE on personality tests and while this one is a bit more on the somber side, I think it’s an important thing to honestly assess. By being able to know where you stand, it will make it easier to create actions to feel better.

here are some of my tips on feeling less lonely when it hits

first & foremost: no one is alone in feeling lonely. read that sentence, & read it again. sometimes just knowing that you aren’t alone really helps to feel less lonely. In a sense, we all feel it, so we are all connected. You are never, ever truly alone & we all relate so much.

Get to know people you see everyday’s names. It may sound a little basic, but it adds a personal touch & connection… not to mention it helps you speak aloud to someone else more! The barista who makes your coffee every day, the UPS delivery man who always delivers your packages, the waiter or bartender at your favourite restaurant… get to know them! One thing I really struggle with is eye contact so this REALLY helps me improve on that. Also, if you’re an online influencer or blogger, really get to know your OG readers/supporters. This has really helped me in my little virtual world. & vice versa! If there’s someone you admire online or enjoy following, reach out – I promise they’d love to hear from you! On that note, if you’re following me and never DM’ed or commented – please know I’d LOVE to hear from you so never hesitate to shoot me a note or e-mail or DM!

On that note, always, always, always say please & thank you! No matter what the task or ask – especially the teeny, tiny small ones. Whether it’s asking for extra cinnamon in my coffee, please or sending an e-mail asking someone for their time, please or even asking Erik to grab something from downstairs, please… and a huge thank you when it’s all delivered – no matter how small of the task… again, especially the small tasks! It’s an easy way to practice gratitude in your daily life, but letting the other person in and letting them know you appreciate their actions. Feel good vibes for both parties! I realized the other day that over the years, I never actually said THANK YOU to anyone who has read or followed me. I got on stories and filmed a video just thanking everyone from the bottom of my heart – not only did it feel damn good but there was so kindness in the responses that went down in the DMs. Thanking people helps connect people.

On that note, offer praise & gratitude as much as you can! This makes both parties feel good, just like the above. When a job is done well, give your praise. It can even be as simple as commenting on your friend’s instagram if s/he posts a banging photo! Be generous with your praise – gratitude is contagious! Keep it rolling! And don’t forget to praise or give gratitude to yourself on a job well done. I love journals for this but I practice gratitude in my mind often too.

Truly listen to people when they are talking: whether it’s a deep conversation or everyday conversation from tasks. These days we are so distracted and said distraction, I strongly believe, leads to loneliness. Plus, you never know where a conversation may lead!

Do a favour for someone. If you’re feeling lonely, reach out to friends and ask if there’s anything you can help them with. My friend Colette & I are really good about this – not only are you helping someone out, it’s so good to check in on your friends and people close to you to see what they need. You never know how valuable your help can be, not to mention it helps spark conversations, reconnections, & it always feels so good to do good!

If you learn something interesting, share it!! One of my favourite things Erik does is send me articles on things he enjoyed reading. Sometimes, I get them on days when I’m feeling down on my luck and it really helps me feel better. If you hear a song that makes you think of someone, tell them! If your friend would love what you read, share it! This is a fun way to use social media to connect with your community. SHARING IS CARING!!!

Get started on a project! Whether it’s deep cleaning the kitchen, or organizing your closet, or starting that blog… dive into a project – it will keep your mind stimulated and it’s always interesting to see where your mind goes. You may find creativity in ways you never expected and find something unfamiliar in the familiar.

Immerse yourself into your interests. Maybe you’ve always had an interest in wine but never studied it? Dive into it! Not only will it keep your mind occupied, it’s very much enjoyable, and will introduce you to a whole new community of people with similar interests. I’m using wine as an example but the options are endless. In fact, whenever I’m feeling really lonely, diving into my blog has truly become a solace.

Be wary on binge watching television or binge scrolling instagram when loneliness hits. It’s a very easy thing to do and it really helps kill time or silence, not to mention it’s crazy addictive. But also, it’s very easy to connect to the characters you are watching or people you are scrolling by. By the time the show is over or you’re done with your scroll, there is a new void & it feels like you lost your new friends… it becomes an endless cycle. This is something I do too & it’s something I try to work on, especially since I enjoy watching TV & am online often! One thing that helps me is to carve out times to watch TV and only when I have everything I need to do done. As far as social media, I try to limit scrolling to only 30 minutes a day & I have everyone muted on stories {GAME!!!! CHANGER!!!!!}

Get comfortable with silence. This one is way easier said than done… even when spending a full decade living alone after college, I would always have music on in the background. to fill the void. Turning it all off was hard at first, but I found day after day, it was easier to really take in the present & surroundings.

Find your secret place! I get into it in more detail here but it’s basically a secret tradition you have with yourself. When you’re feeling the loneliness creep in, retreat to your secret place. The point of these places is to give you a personal moment of calmness & help clear your head when negativity strikes… or make you even happier when you’re feeling good!

Get cleaning. This may sound like the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling down, but it’s so important. When you’re feeling lonely, it’s easy to shut yourself out to the world & let things accumulate – which only adds to the stress and darkness. When the feelings creep in, find something to clean or organize – kind of like starting that project above. As the house feels more open and clear, it will reflect in your mind.

If you’re feeling really, really lonely – again, know that you aren’t alone. Take things slowly and with one small step at a time. It’s easy to feel super overwhelmed getting “back into the swing of things” where one step at a time is still a step forward. Journaling how I feel and then writing pro-active small steps to feel better is something that really helps. It will feel really easy to isolate yourself but at the end of the day, the best way to combat loneliness & negativity is opening yourself up & knowing exactly how you feel.

ways to connect with people

start a chain letter! I’m not talking cheesy chain letters saying forward this to 10 people or else you’ll never meet your soulmate or whatever. I’m talking substance & interactive, connecting people to people. I was recently included on a chain letter I really, really loved. Basically it was a list of 2 names (the person who sent it to you as #2 and the person who sent it to THEM as #1). To complete the chain, you send a poem of something that means a lot to you to #1, move the person who sent it to you at #1 and move your name to #2 & forward it off, rinse and repeat. I found it SO cool because it connected so many people from so many groups.

text or call a friend, especially your “strong” friend! I know this sounds like such basic advice but trust me, it’s so fun to connect with people. There’s a quote you see often circulate online to check in on your strong friends. I totally get it, the strong ones are rarely checked in with because they appear so strong or put together, but remember what you’re seeing might not be what’s actually going on… and they may be feeling pretty lonely too. & trust me, EVERYONE loves getting the text along the lines of “Hey! I miss you & was thinking of you. How the heck are you?”

start a group! my friend Gitana was telling me about how NextDoor is a great way to meet people. From walking groups, to coffee groups – it’s a lot of local people with similar tastes.

Speaking of a group: I’m starting an Offline Friendship Club here in San Francisco! If you’re interested, shoot me an e-mail: sls@essellesse.com or DM (@shannonLsilver) with what area in the Bay Area you live in. Think of low key, small, intimate events from wine tasting, to tea parties, to journaling seshes, to photo seshes!

& here’s a little Cosmopolitan-esque quick fire answer on things.

{ inspired by Oprah! }

When I’m alone, I love to: make myself a cup of tea, savor a glass or two of wine, hang out with my cat Lucy, read a good book {I personally love self help & cookbooks}, binge watch a show I love, peruse Pinterest for inspiration, journal or get outside and walk along the water.

I’m never lonely as long as: long as I have my cat, finding inspiration, or cooking! & Pinterest! Pinterest NEVER makes me feel lonely… instead it leaves me so inspired.

The best way to make a new friend is: being genuinely yourself & getting out & doing things you enjoy with both kindness and a relaxed, open mind.

Topics I can connect with anyone about: cooking, food, & wine. I love getting everyone’s tips and favourite recipes! I also love talking tea, books, & favourite shows / movies – I always love to ask people who their favourite characters are!

My personal cure for loneliness: getting outside. Whenever I feel loneliness creeping in or drained from social media, I put my phone in airplane mode & head to my secret place to clear my head. I also love to solo dine – strangely this never makes me feel lonely but maybe because I’m SO into food & wine? It’s so nice to get out of the house & get a table for one at a restaurant, bring a good book, magazine, or journal & just enjoy a good dinner. 

When I’m feeling lonely, I try to remember: that this moment to myself, on this day, at this time is very special and one I will never get back.

Ahhhhh just writing this out all feels SO good. The holidays can be a weird time & especially with night coming around 4p these days so I hope this post can help others feeling the same way.

How do you handle loneliness?

Also, I’d love to see your answers to the above!! PS – it’s a fun thing to journal too 🙂

When I’m alone, I love to:
A topic I can connect with anyone about is:
I’m never lonely as long as:
The best way to make a new friend is:
My personal cure for loneliness is:
When I’m lonely, I try to remember:

see ya tomorrow!

x SLS

If you’d like to join the San Francisco Online Friendship Club, shoot me an e-mail: sls@essellesse.com or DM (@shannonLsilver) with what area in the Bay Area you live in – this will help me know where to plan events!

also, if you’ve followed along and never reached out, if you’re feeling lonely, please do not hesitate to send me an email or DM, I’d love to hear from you <3

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about essellesse

essellesse is a lazy luxury lifestyle platform by Shannon Silver focusing on everything that’s important to living your best life – great food, wine, travel, vintage style, fitness and skincare. essellesse evokes a style of lazy luxury that’s fun, intimate, and easy breezy.

@shannonLsilver on instagram