And this may be one of the factors that may be contributing to loneliness. Another major hypothesis is technology. So it could be that spending time online makes people lonely, and it could be that lonely people spend more time online. But there is some evidence that looking at time spent on technology or social media is an indicator of well-being. For instance, using it for communication seems to be associated with positive outcomes for older adults but negative outcomes for younger people. Are some demographics more likely to feel lonely than others? There was a report that just came out that used a nationally representative sample of about 20, people.
In that study, the Z generation reported the highest rates of loneliness relative to other ages of older adults. And there is some data out in the UK that shows that young are showing increased rates of loneliness.
Lonely People - your stories: “The kind of loneliness that makes my heart ache”
Workplaces can feel very lonely, despite being surrounded by people. How can we be around coworkers and still feel lonely? Of course people who are lonely bring that with them to work. Though there can also be factors at work that can contribute to loneliness. But we need to think beyond just putting a ping-pong table in the workplace.
How do we foster real connections among our coworkers? How do we foster and encourage more of a work-life balance so that individuals have time to develop relationships outside of work? I think because we all know that there is some limited success among these. Most workplaces provide some sort of tools or resources for planning financially for retirement, but that should include planning socially for retirement, too.
Speaking of socialness at work, is lunchtime a place we could look to for social connection? How could we use that hour to fix this problem? I once spent a sabbatical as a fellow at the Netherland Institute for Advanced Studies, which was a group of experts brought together about social relationships, technology, and health. Part of the fellowship was that all of the fellows had to come together for lunch. They wanted diverse experts to come together over a meal because they knew that by conversing and interacting we would come up with better ideas than we could on our own.
It certainly seems like something worth exploring, given that it could foster not only relationships among co-workers, but could foster ideas that could increase innovation in the workplace. In what other ways could employers try to make the office less lonely? Denmark is known to be one of the healthiest countries in the world on the World Happiness Index.
One factor they cite that is part of this is that there are strong social norms that the workday ends at 5pm. That shows that social norms play an important role. Sometimes a workplace may have policies, but the way in which things play out in terms of actual practices and norms of acceptability may be very different. Workplace practices and policies need to be systematically evaluated in terms of how they foster connection—or take away from it. We also have a larger number of people freelancing and working from home than ever before.
How does this apply to them? Of course there are a variety of situations. For some, working from home may have a number of advantages because it allows a greater time to spend with family and friends. Ideally, we should find ways to capitalize on its strengths and acknowledge and address its limitations as well. But it would be a shame if we got rid of it all together, because it may be useful in some circumstances.
Hi Omar, it does make sense and I have it every time. I should probably write about it. I find it helpful to try and do touristy things at home, which tends to get me over the worst of it e. I hope that helps. Good stuff Jo. Experienced digital nomad having a night wandering Budapest alone and let my mind run away from the big picture.
2. You allow someone else's opinion of you to dictate your self-worth.
Back on track. Thank you?. Safe travels. Great article! I am planning on a week-long trip solo to Paris in late November I enjoy my own company, but my last solo trip to Denver in I felt very lonely, I discovered something about my significant other that really hurt me a lot a week before my trip, I took the trip since it was already booked anyway.
Do you think because I was heartbroken I felt lonely? I want to say it was and I am super excited but anxious about traveling alone again. Hi Jose, it sounds like you were not in the best place emotionally on your last trip and travelling when your mind is occupied with upsetting things can absolutely have an impact on your trip IMO. Paris is a great city with lots to keep you occupied. Just make sure you reach out to other travellers if you start to feel lonely.
I hope you have a better trip this time round. I wish she could be here with me as she loves travelling too. By that time I was heavily hooked into the hostel scene and had made travel friends I kept meeting up with as I travelled through South America. I actually planned my trip the way I did because I was nervous about being in South America on my own rather than worrying about being lonely but in hindsight I did myself the biggest favour.
Prior to that, I did go on a one week holiday which was exactly the kind of trip I would have taken with my ex and I found that incredibly painful at the time as I kept torturing myself with thoughts of what we would be doing together. Instead, I was doing those things alone. Focus on finding travel friends and you will fill some of that loneliness gap, I think.
And, who knows… you might find someone special in the process. It was just so nice awful, awful word but it works for me right now to read your article, made things feel manageable and positive again! Also- not really addressed in your article directly- I went on a very vague sense of knowing I had to leave and search for something, but no idea what.
You raise a couple of interesting points. Yes, it feels fun at the time but finding myself on my own in a strange location with low energy and what feels like a lifelong hangover definitely puts me on downer. Often quoted: not all those who wander are lost. Thanks for taking the time to comment giving me some pause for thought.
I love this article and I can relate to your experience. I left the lawyering career even before it started and travelled a lot until I found the career that best suits me — work from anywhere, travel when you want, and work when you can. Anyhow, your tips will serve as my stronghold as I begin with my travel bucket list.
Well done on the career change and book! Happy travels. Hope you are well! Thanks again! Hi Alana, sorry for the slow reply. I usually find that speaking to local people is a more engaging experience. Start with the street food sellers — they usually have decent English and you have a ready-made topic in front of you. I hope the rest of your travels go well.
Talk about good timing! The last two days I have been feeling very lonely. Today I walked around Brick Lane in London hearing the same thoughts you wrote about. I was so deep in to those mean messages I forgot all the techniques I have used to handle those suckers!
Tonight while out celebrating the fifth month of solo travel I plugged in, lonely traveling solo and up you popped. What a well written, wise, empathetic article. Thank you. Though I love London I have seen how different it is in friendliness.
Alone Again, Naturally
Barcelona was much easier as have been the smaller towns. As I read your article I wanted to cry thinking how wonderful it is that you took the time to write such helpful, encouraging thoughts that I would need to hear and how it would lift my heart. I used to live and work in the city and have many friends there and still sometimes find myself feeling lost at sea. I found the change of town can be a decent enough alternative.
Happy travels! I read your article and agree that in a big city it is very difficult to make genuine connections with people — I think people are more suspicious of each other and tired because of high rents and overwork. I feel very displaced in the world. How do you overcome the feeling of being alone and completely rootless no matter where you go? I was thinking of joining an expat group like internations. Is that a good idea in your opinion? In fact, I probably need to email myself about this.
Last year I settled down in city that is hundreds of miles away from my friends. I also use my knee injury as a good excuse. I definitely think a group like Internations is an excellent start. I also intend to go to some of those Meet Ups I ago earmarked as interesting. I guess adding all of these to my to do list will also help me make things happen — having a go at weaving social commitments into your life might help?
Do come back and let me know how you get on. Yes, there are a lot of comments here from people who have been lonely but the numbers are less than 0. What you wrote is true. This is not my first solo trip so dealing with it is a work in progress. Urgh, loneliness sucks. I hope Rome got a lot better for you since you posted. Do message me if you want to chat. This article was a life-saver! I came back to Mumbai a few days ago to continue studying tabla with my teacher, but I decided to stay somewhere new in a different part of the city this is my third time here.
Read through this a few times, got some sleep, and feel much better. Embracing the alone time, practicing, and enjoying this special moment where I can just be me. Thank you so much for this article! Ahhh, the language barrier challenge.
2. Loneliness makes you vulnerable to addiction.
The easiest, is stick to English at first. Most people have a few words, which is a better exchange than none. Have a look at local Meetups on the meetup website. Language get togethers are usually informal and a great environment where there are likely to be other English speakers you can connect with. Do a search for hotels in your area on hostelword and look at the description to see if they have a bar. Make sure you pick a place that has lots of reviews as this indicates it will be a busy hostel and therefore bar. If Paris does feel too intense, escape to Ile St Louis, one of the islands in the middle of the Seine.
I have been on the road one month. I loved this article. Hey Angela, thanks for reaching out. And these comments are a fraction of what I get in private messages and via my Facebook page. Just one couple after another which sucked after a while. And if loneliness has taken hold, it can be hard to shake that critter off. This is your bucket list trip so there was something that really inspired you to go there.
For me, that would be a whole day in a cafe with a book, coffee a gallon of it and a cake bigger than my head. For you? This will pass.
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A wee bit of self care. Quite needed. Tanyasha, You Tube and tea sounds like a good way to spend a night for me! I really do know how this feels and I also can promise that it will get better. Hi there, Your post is just about what I needed. I am currently a master student based in Milan, Italy. Because I love Italy so much, I decided that I would travel all around the country even if I have to do it on my own.
And here I am- currently in florence, in a hostel. What was supposed to be one of my dreams come true is proving to be a bit painful for my self esteem. I even did something I feared, I had lunch alone I even got myself some wine! The worst moment came when a man started commenting in Italian i happen to know the language how strange it was that I was on my own. The waitress looked like she was feeling sorry for me.
I am so disappointed in me, I wanted this to be a life changing experience. I wanted to be able to meet people and create memories. The only people that do engage in conversations with me are older men who have somewhat associated a young woman being on her own as a sign to hit on her. So, if someone came up to you in a bar and called you a lonely loser, what would you say?
We have huge strength — you already took yourself to Italy and then Florence on your own. Excellent article, just what I needed to read. I am currently traveling in New Zealand, and while I have a terrific time during day time, I feel very lonely on most nights. I wish people would take me for who I am and not for where I come from.
Thanks Jo! Often I take a book with me to a bar. Good luck and big high five for not letting it get to you! Jo, Great article! So, as the saying goes, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. And your advice is spot on — if it was easy, everyone would be doing it! Also, cake and a good book. Thank you so much for this post. I mean its only 12 days. I have a list of fun things to do.
However I find myself on skyscanner looking for a flight home in a few days, cutting my trip short. I know that is insane. I wish i could rid myself of this absolute most awful feeling. If anything its made me feel how much I would love to be settled or on this trip with a partner. Hi Elle, I replied personally by email. I hope things improved after you posted this. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help…. Just came across this while looking for blog posts in solo travelling.
Currently travelling through Australia and arrived in Sydney today. I love this. Thank you! If you need any contacts in Bali, let me know and I can do a shout out and see if any fellow, fun travellers are around…. I just found this and it has saved my bacon! I am on a safari in Masai Mara, supposed to be in a group, but is just a German couple and me! And they are staying elsewhere so am eating on my own. They leave tomorrow and is just be and the guide. I booked with Bamba and they told me 7 people were going.
Was about to call it off and go home early but will stick it out. Thanks for the tips! Hi Sarah, so happy to help! So pleased you stuck it out. Hope it ended up being a great trip. As it turned out, I was just hungry. Also happy to help you triage a way through your perceived loneliness. PS: sorry for the slow reply.
The psychology of why you feel alone even when you’re surrounded by people
I get a lot of comments and I do answer then all…it just sometimes takes time. I have always, 20 years, traveled for work and disliked it. It is the nature of my career and my degree that drives it and changing employers never helped. The last few years I feel lonely and bitter about traveling again the moment I step out of my home. Keeping busy with the job at hand that brought me there does not push away the bitterness any more; I regret ever getting into my field even though it is something I do very well, and love. Worse, my pain and toxic mood seep out to the point that others know it.
Though I remain functionality excellent in the work I get feedback through my boss that people immediately dislike me, or feel like they need to walk on eggshells around me when I am on the road. Is there any way you can change your circumstances? I know a change of job or role can be daunting and even seem impossible, but compared to the misery your current job is causing, it seems like a necessary step for you to get some peace and happiness?
Otherwise, is there anything you can do to make your travels more enjoyable? I really hope you can get some resolution. If you want to email me to talk more, drop me a line by the contact form. Wishing you a happy new year. Great post! Just what I needed to read today. I completely get what you mean about striking up conversations but it gets harder the longer you leave it and the more you worry about it.
I took up my mission and tried to talk to the 3 other people on my day trip on Sunday. Unfortunately they were not exactly chatty types but I made the effort! Feeling much better now so it has definitely opened my eyes about the need for me to make more of an effort! Hey Sally — well done! So glad you met some nice folk on the Mekong and I hope you continue to meet people for the rest of your travels.
Yes, it is hard to force yourself to make the effort — I have to have this chat with myself a lot — but it does work. Happy rest of your trip! Bring beer. You always make friends with beer. Good to see some reflections on the theme that travelling is not always the best of times. Strange that being in a couple can also be isolating.
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Would be a good idea to try interrupting some of the couples too sometimes…. I spoke to a couple in Bolivia who were gushing with thanks — I was the first person to speak to them in weeks. I hear this complaint from couples a lot. The number one is very bad luck for many Chinese including seem being the only one at a table. This old man simply sat with me for his own benefit as well as mine. Ha ha, that is definitely disconcerting and awkward. Great post!! Exactely what I experienced the last 8 month in Asia. For me its not difficult to talk to a stranger, but I really!!
Going over and starting a conversation with a group…. THX so much for the story! Keep it up Cristina. Cristina, I always struggle to meet people in Asia for exactly the same reasons. I find Mexico and Latin America very easy for meeting people. Also the USA and Europe. In fact, anywhere apart from Asia. Good luck and I hope you meet some more people soon. I like being by myself way too much for feeling lonely when I travel solo. I have done it for months and never really felt like that.
Or log on into facebook and find my friends, send them a whatsapp message. All those couples with kids have crappy expensive lives and wish they were you. Lots harder to be lonely at breakfast with some fellow traveller who spent the night helping you scratch an itch.. The worst for me is eating at a restaurant by myself..
I always feel so awkward! But we can only change our loneliness and meet people if we put ourselves out there. Mary, eating alone can take a lot of practice but you need to push through the pain barrier to get there. Just last night I went out for dinner alone and was given the best seat in the house, a corner table with double aspect window view. IndianaJo features some links e. Amazon, Bluehost and Prosecco tours that provide a commission to me if you buy through these links.
There is no extra cost to you but what I earn means I can keep offering travel advice for free. Thank you for supporting me. Primary Menu Search. You might also like my post: Ways Travel Has Changed Me Tend to your basic needs first First things first, tend to your basic needs and see if that solves things.
Still feeling lonely, read on. Give yourself a break! Indulge yourself Feeling down in the dumps is the perfect excuse for a bit of indulgence. Whatever your heart desires, go make it happen. Look at your location Some places are easier to meet new people than others. Join a tour Spending a day in the company of others is a good way to bond with new people and often pick up a travel friend or dinner invitation.
You might like my related post: Tips For Your First Time Stay in A Hostel Have dinner out — but choose wisely Eating out alone can be one of those activities that makes loneliness feel worse not better but there is still scope for using a solo dinner to your advantage. Make new friends online The power of the Internet is immense. Exhaust your own contacts — I bet that someone you know will know someone who knows someone where you are. Message me! Where are you from — I HATE this question it the most asked question in the travel world but sometimes the words come from my lips for want of any other inspiration.
Often my motivation is finding good food but finding a dinner partner can be an added side-effect. Stuff them. Use it wisely. On a scale of 1 to 10 1 being not very, 10 being very , how embarrassed are you by your last sexual encounter — best used on a group of drunk Aussies. Like this? Share it on Pinterest… Read more on Indiana Jo Article written by Jo Fitzsimons Jo Fitzsimons is a freelance travel writer who has visited over 60 countries.
Thank you x. Jo Fitzsimons 3 July, at am Permalink Reply. Liri Narandscha 27 March, at pm Permalink Reply. Hi Jo, hi lonely-reader, first of all thanks a lot for your article. Jo Fitzsimons 15 May, at pm Permalink Reply. Matt 14 March, at pm Permalink Reply. Arthur 19 February, at pm Permalink Reply. Thanks Jo, for your outstanding article! Jo Fitzsimons 19 February, at pm Permalink Reply. Hanif 9 February, at pm Permalink Reply.