Coping with loneliness and isolation

There are lots of ways to deal with loneliness and isolation. The solution depends on what's causing these feelings.

For example, if you've moved out of home or to a different country, it's natural you'll feel lonely at first.

How to deal with loneliness

Know your loneliness is normal

Everyone goes through lonely periods in life. Feeling lonely does not mean there's something wrong with you.

For example, leaving secondary school or college to do something new can be a scary time for anyone.

Parenting alone can also feel isolating, especially when your children are younger. You can naturally miss adult company. 

Being unemployed can also be stressful. Life feels very different and the future is uncertain. This can cause you to feel isolated.

Boost your self-esteem

A lack of self-esteem can hold you back in social situations. Meeting new people can be stressful when you do not feel good about yourself.

Boost your self-esteem by finding things to do that are achievable and building on them little by little.

Building your self-esteem

Get busy

Keeping yourself busy is a good way to deal with loneliness.

If you're bored or cannot find a job, volunteer with an organisation you care about or an event you might be interested in. Feeling needed and useful is important sometimes.

Explore your interests

If you're on your own in a new place, a hobby can be a great way of meeting new people and making new friends.

Starting a hobby you're interested in can help you fight loneliness and isolation.

If you're feeling lonely for no obvious reason, doing an evening class or sport can help take your mind off it.

Finding activities to do with others

Enjoy your own company

This might feel strange at first if you're used to being around other people. But spending time alone can be liberating.

The freedom to be alone with your thoughts can be a great way of winding down. Try to feel comfortable with just yourself for company.

Think of people you want to be around. Often we like the company of people who are very comfortable in themselves. Learning to be on your own and like your own company is a step towards this kind of confidence.

Try not to worry

Feelings of loneliness often come and go during life. Sometimes the best thing to do is accept you feel lonely in the current circumstances and that this is okay.

If you're lonely because you're homesick, think about when you'll be back with your friends and family. Keep in touch with them by phone or email. Try to enjoy the new experiences you're having away from home.

If you're constantly lonely for no obvious reason, it could be a sign of depression. This is something you should talk about to family, friends, a counsellor or your GP.

Mind yourself

Sometimes when you feel lonely or isolated, you are more vulnerable. Here are some tips on taking care of yourself.

Take what you see online with a pinch of salt

What people put on social media can make you feel worse if you're feeling low. Remember, people publish the best of themselves online. Try not to compare yourself to other people's photos and posts.

Be wary of certain groups

When you're lonely, the idea of belonging somewhere becomes more attractive. Cults and gangs often target lonely people, knowing they might be vulnerable.

Be careful about the groups or clubs you choose to join. Make sure the group you join is a positive influence and makes you feel good about yourself.

Don't spend too much time online

Online communities can be a great social outlet, but do not rely on them too much. Make sure you balance your social life and make the effort to talk to people in person.

Build trust slowly

When you're lonely, you may place too much weight on new friendships and relationships. Build trust gradually, take it slow and accept your new friends as they are. Take your time with new relationships.

Find more information about making friends — Helpguide.org

Getting support

Alone.ie provides support for older people who feel alone and isolated.

Meetup.com provides a way to connect with other people if you are moving into a new area.

Single parents who are feeling isolated can get support from Parentline.ie.

Page last reviewed: 1 September 2022
Next review due: 1 September 2025