Loneliness is a nearly invisible affliction. It often has little to do with being physically alone – even those surrounded by friends, family and co-workers can feel it’s pangs.
But there are subtle signs. There may be obvious sadness, a loss of the ability to sleep, hostility, sudden weight gain, constant fatigue, or any number of unexplained behavioral changes. If you’re unsure, one of the best things to do is simply ask. This can only reveal someone’s loneliness, but simultaneously make them feel important.
Once you become aware of loneliness in your friend or loved one’s life, you may feel confused about what to do. Loneliness can be a very complex result of many different factors. But there are some actions you can take to cheer up just about anyone, regardless of the source of their loneliness. Read on to find out 6 great ways to cheer that lonely someone up.
Do something small
People know pity. If someone you care about lets you know that they are feeling lonely, don’t make them feel like they’re a charity case. The last thing they need is to feel pitied.
Instead, do something that feels natural. Invite them to join you on the same outings that you’d normally go on, and be sure to invite them regularly. Don’t make grandiose, sweeping invitations, and especially don’t overwhelm them with social calls – feeling like someone is spending time with them out of pity will only amplify their loneliness.
Remember, loneliness often stems from a low self-esteem, so let them know that they’re valuable without making them feel pitied. Lonely people are much more likely to see interactions as negative, so any hint of patronizing behavior could be very hurtful. Remind them, through your actions, that you sincerely want their presence, and that they make you happy. Be real. They will appreciate it.
Being a good listener involves more than just hearing, it takes work, and if you do it right, it could make that lonely person feel incredibly valued.
When they are speaking, do your best not to interrupt them – wait your turn to speak. Don’t let your mind drift to what you want to say next, either. remain in the moment while listening, and focus on what the other person is saying. It’s harder than it sounds, but try it!
Show your interest in what they’re saying through open and positive body language, such as being sure to face them as they speak, and maintaining comfortable eye contact. Nod when appropriate, don’t be a stone. Let them know that their words are affecting you, and that you’re sincerely interested. Otherwise, they may begin to feel like a burden to you.
Being an active listener gives you the power to make people feel important. Use it well.
Do what they love
If someone is socially isolated, they’re probably not engaging in the social activities that make them happy. Remember those active listening skills? Well, it’s tome to use them!
Find out what they like, and what their passions are, if you don’y already know. Connect them with the things that they love, especially if you can do it unexpectedly, this is sure to bring a smile to their face. Why? Because it means that they exist. Someone has thought of them – not only that, but someone cares enough to get to know them, and to use that knowledge to their benefit.
So make use of those ears! Nothing says ‘I care about you’, more than someone knowing about that weird little niche that you absolutely love.
And speaking of getting to know people, let’s move on to one of the best ways to cheer a lonely fellow up!
A lonely person needs strong, optimistic friends. Negativity, sadness and loneliness can easily spread – think of them almost like social diseases. Make sure that you’re a positive influence. This can be a lot of work, especially if you’re not naturally cheerful, but it can make a world of difference.
Likewise, happiness and energy can be infectious as well. Inspire them! talk about things that excite you, and things that you know excite them. If the conversation begins to turn negative, turn it around. Sometimes people just need to be reminded that it’s okay to be happy.
Play with animals
There are few things more comforting than a pet. Numerous studies show that animals make us happier, and leave us feeling more fulfilled and relaxed. They can be wonderful social ice breakers, and their sincere, unfiltered affection can allay feelings of loneliness like nothing else.
Becoming part of a support structure
Cheering up that lonely friend can often, as we’ve seen, be as simple as spending time with them. If you know someone who is going through a difficult time, don’t be afraid to reach out – even though they may not necessarily seem thankful at the time, it will help. Remember, though, that people need an entire support structure; you can’t be everything to one person, and you shouldn’t try to be. You can only provide what you can uniquely bring to their lives.
Be a part of the support structure they need, and you’ll be a part of the solution, bringing cheer and happiness to the life of another.