7 Resources for Getting Connected and Combating Loneliness

How to get connected and face loneliness

Loneliness is an epidemic in its own right, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, it reached all-time high levels. While the rates of reported loneliness have subsided with the removal of mandated social distancing and lockdowns, 24% of adults under the age of 30 and 27% of lower-income households still report experiencing frequent loneliness, according to Gallup News.

It’s not just bad for your mental health, either. Research implicates loneliness with increasing the risk of numerous adverse health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, higher blood pressure, and depression. Humans are meant to live in groups, not isolated away from each other, and all that time alone can raise your cortisol levels. As these stress hormones increase in your body, it decreases the effectiveness of your immune system and increases widespread inflammation.

The good news is, if you’re experiencing loneliness, you’re far from alone, and you’re far from helpless. In the day and age of the internet, numerous resources can help you locate and connect with other like-minded people looking for socialization opportunities. All you have to do is take the initiative to find them.

Yes, this may be easier said than done, but that’s what this list is for. Here, you’ll discover several options to help expand your social circle and find people who understand you and your current situation.

Local Support Groups

One of the most effective ways you can boost your social support network is through finding local groups. This allows for in-person friendships to blossom and thrive, combating isolation and loneliness. Talking to people online can be helpful as well, but it doesn’t create the same experience as being around other people. Humans are a social species; being around others is an important factor in our mental health and wellness.

Finding local support groups is exceptionally easy if you have access to the internet, especially if live in an urban environment. Perhaps you need support because you’re grieving. Try searching for “[your city or town] grief support” online. You may be surprised to see all sorts of free groups where people struggling with the same issues as you gather to process how they feel.

Another effective way to locate these groups is by using findhelp.org. While this database is often seen as a way to find assistance with tangible resources, it also hosts a wealth of information about support groups sponsored by local organizations.

Simply type in your ZIP code, select “Care” from the dropdown menu, and go to the bottom of the list that appears. You’ll find support networks in your area there. Clicking on support networks brings you to another dropdown menu, where you can select the relevant type of assistance you need, including local support groups, peer support, bereavement support, and mentoring programs.

Local Hobby and Interest Groups

Attending community events can also be an effective way to make new friends and meet new people without the context of seeking to discuss your current situation. Your local library is a fantastic starting point. Often, libraries host numerous clubs and interest groups open to the general public, and they’re usually completely free or have a nominal payment requirement.

Your city’s parks and recreation department also likely has several events and activities listed for numerous interest topics. They won’t always be sports or other outdoor events, either. Some cities host regular art classes, cooking classes, and more, helping you to find other people who live in your area who share the same interests as you.

Try searching online for “[your city or town] event listings” or be more specific with the type of club you’d like to join, like “[your city or town] bowling league” and see what comes up.

Community Engagement Programs and Volunteer Work

If what you’re looking for is to simply get out and connect with other people, consider signing up to volunteer locally. This gets you out of the house and helps you meet up with new people. When you volunteer regularly, you’ll start getting that social engagement you crave, all while helping your local community at the same time.

Volunteer opportunities can be found just about anywhere. Try checking out local:

  • hospitals
  • food banks or soup kitchens
  • homeless shelters
  • libraries
  • schools
  • humane societies
  • your local United Way
  • your city’s official government page

Mental Health America

Mental Health America has numerous local affiliate locations, which can be a particularly useful tool when searching for loneliness support groups. They’re sorted out by what you’re struggling with the most, and the list is comprehensive. Topics include subjects such as addiction, ADHD, caregivers, postpartum support, survivors of abuse, and far more.

These groups allow you to get the extra social support you need to help combat loneliness while also tackling any other issues you may be facing.

ADAA Online Support Group

People with anxiety and depression may feel isolated, but not know how to get started with meeting new people. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America has numerous options to assist with this. If getting out of the house is too difficult for you, or if you live rurally and don’t have any local options, the ADAA online support communities can help.

ADAA hosts four free peer-to-peer online communities to help people experiencing mental health disorders find support and connect with others who understand their struggles. These include:

  • ADAA Anxiety and Depression Support Community (English)
  • ADAA Apoyo para Ansiedad y Depresión (Español)
  • ADAA Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) Support Community
  • ADAA Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Support Community

The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party focuses specifically on bereavement support, connecting people between the ages of 21 and 45 who have lost a loved one together. This U.S.-based program connects people together virtually for video calls, but you can choose to only join with people local to you as well.

It advertises two different programs, one that lets you pair one-on-one with a buddy and another that sets up small virtual “dinner tables” that tend to meet every 2-4 weeks, depending on everyone’s availability. Regardless of which program suits your needs best, you’ll find support from people who understand your grief and loneliness and potentially make lasting connections and lifelong friends along the way.

Emergency Resources

Social isolation and loneliness are among the largest predictors of suicidal ideation and other self-harmful behavior. If you’re struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, it’s an emergency situation. Know that, as cliche as it sounds, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Emergency resources are available to assist. Contact the following immediately if you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Crisis Text Line: Send “HELLO” to 741741
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Call or text any message to 988, or chat online at 988lifeline.org

You’re Not Alone—Even When it Feels That Way

Loneliness can feel like it’s never-ending. It can feel suffocating and like there’s no possible solution. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Help is out there. People are out there, just waiting to become your friend. You just have to reach out.

If you’re struggling to cope with the emotions that loneliness or social isolation brings up, we’re here to help. You don’t have to complete this journey yourself. Our counselors will hold your hand and walk you through every step of the way. Help for loneliness is just a phone call away. Contact us at (866) 653-6220 to get started.