Loneliness and depression are two conditions that often co-exist, with one fueling the other. Although it can be difficult to understand what to do when complicated feelings arise, you can overcome them. Navigating feelings of loneliness and depression can cause stress, but there are steps you can take to tackle these thoughts. While you are on this journey, remember you’re not alone. With the right resources, you can find a way toward a more fulfilling and connected life.

Acknowledge Your Emotions

If you are trying to get out of a lonely rut, the first step is acknowledging and accepting the complex emotion. We live in a world where everyone is consistently on the go. There is often an overall lack of self-acknowledgment. Taking a step back to reflect is important. Loneliness and depression can be challenging emotions to confront, but acknowledging them is the first step toward finding a solution.

Find Community

One of the best ways to kick loneliness to the curb is to find a network of people who can show you love and support. If you are an introvert, this can seem difficult. People are complicated — and can honestly be draining at times— still, finding your community is key. Human beings all need to have connections with other people, so finding a community is important. This could mean reconnecting with old friends, joining a social group on social media, or even simply reaching out to non-toxic family members for support.

Be Self-Compassionate

Remember that you are not lonely and depressed because of anything that you did wrong, so be kind to yourself. Self-compassion means that you need to accept that it is okay to feel sad or alone. Take a beat to be gentle with yourself. This could include doing something you love or allowing yourself to enjoy a healthy guilty pleasure without the guilt.

Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful tool that can help you see the brighter side of life. This can kick out loneliness and depression. Take a step back to appreciate the things you have and the opportunities that come your way. This can instantly give you some hope in brighter days.

Light Matters

According to Dr. Ashley Lowe-Simmons, a Licensed Certified Clinical Social Worker and owner of Conversations With a Clinician, light exposure matters.

“We must stay focused on the light when darkness is present,” said Lowe-Simmons. “Light can mean a mural of things, including access to sunlight, being around people that help us to carry a load of life so it seems lighter, and engaging in enjoyable activities that make us feel lighter.”

Do Something You Love

Doing things that you love is a great way to feel confident and fulfilled. Sometimes, doing what you love, whether it is shopping, knitting, to traveling, can give you a fresh pair of eyes on life. In addition to taking up a new hobby, you could also volunteer for a cause you love. Overall, doing something that you are interested in can help you get out of your head and renew your mindset. It will help you step into a season of gratitude.

Dr. Nyasha Chikowore, a Post-Doctoral fellow at the Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness, says that activity scheduling is an effective way to deal with loneliness and depression.

“When clients are facing depression and loneliness, I often recommend activity scheduling, which is also called behavioral activation,” said Chikowore. “Regularly scheduling and engaging in positive activities like exercising, going to a movie, or having coffee with a friend, can improve your mood, give you something to look forward to and increase your connection to the outside world.”

Take Care Of Your Health

It can be easy to remember that physical health is closely linked to mental health. Too often, we forget that before our minds can function properly, our bodies need to be healthy too. If you have been having a hard time, taking care of your body is a great way to begin to break free. This could mean eating a diet that is more balanced, taking up yoga, or finding time to break out a sweat in the gym.

Talk To A Professional

When feelings of loneliness become unbearable, talking to a therapist can help you tackle the hidden issues. Finding a therapist can be daunting and intimidating, but it can rewarding when you find the right fit. Although it might not be easy at first, the quickest way to start seeing results from your sessions is to be open and transparent with your mental health provider about the challenges you are facing. Knowing all of the nitty-gritty details can help your counselor give the right feedback and the tools you need.

According to Pia Johnson, owner of Transformation Counseling Services and Licensed Master Social Worker, seeking professional help is the most important part of navigating loneliness and depression.

“A mental health professional can provide you with a safe and supportive environment to discuss your feelings and help you develop coping strategies,” Johnson said.

Johnson also reiterates the idea that finding a community is also a significant way to find support.

“Even if it feels difficult, try to connect with others in your life. Reach out to friends or family members, join a support group, or participate in social activities,” Johnson said. “Connecting with others can help you feel less isolated and provide a sense of community.”

Johnson, who has two decades of experience in the mental wellness space, also shared that challenging negative thoughts is key.

“Depression and loneliness can lead to negative self-talk and beliefs. Challenge these negative thoughts by identifying evidence that contradicts them and focusing on positive aspects of your life,” Johnson said.