Bored and Lonely – Reasons Why and What to Do About It

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“My life is so boring and lonely. I feel like I have no friends, and it makes me feel so depressed. I just waste time on my phone or watching TV. Every day feels like the same. How can I stop being bored?”

There are many reasons why you might feel bored and lonely. But no matter the reason, there are many things you can do to start feeling better.

In this article, we will discuss the main causes of boredom and loneliness. We will also explore some of the best tips to change your situation and improve your mood.

Feeling bored and lonely can be a sign of depression. If you’d like someone to talk to, give the crisis helpline a call. If you’re in the US, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357). You’ll find out more about them here: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

If you’re not in the US, you’ll find the number to your country’s help line here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines

If you’re not into talking on the phone, you can text with a crisis counselor. They are international. You’ll find more info here: https://www.crisistextline.org/

All these services are 100% free and confidential.

Sections

What to do if you feel bored and alone

First, you need to determine what’s triggering your boredom. Is it because you don’t have friends and feel like you’re disconnected from the outside world? Is it because you don’t have any real hobbies or passions? Are you simply tired of your usual routine and feel like you’re in a rut?

1. Figure out in what way you are lonely

If you don’t have any friends, you’re probably going to feel bored often. That’s because we’re wired for social connection. Positive relationships help us feel good about ourselves- they’re important for our self-esteem and mental well-being.

You could also have friends but still feel lonely, because you don’t have an emotional connection to them.

Friends are also entertaining. While you can technically do most things alone (movies, dinner, hiking, etc.), many people find these activities more fun when they’re doing them with someone else.

Read our main guide on not having friends to figure out in what way you are lonely.

2. Know your boredom triggers

Most of us have boredom triggers. It could be a certain place, time of day, or chore that makes you feel bored. Here are some common triggers:

  • Having no plans over a weekend
  • Working too much
  • Being tired (and mistaking it for boredom)
  • Spending too much time using electronic devices
  • Feeling trapped somewhere (like waiting in a long line)
  • Being at an event that’s unstimulating

Think about which of these triggers may apply to you. The first step is recognition. After you have that awareness, you can plan ahead of time for managing them.

3. Learn how to meditate

You might be bored because you don’t know how to sit still or manage free time. This is especially true if you are used to being very busy. Instead of taking advantage of the free time, you may feel bored and uncomfortable.

Mindfulness is an important skill. Research shows that meditation has many benefits. It can reduce stress and depression and improve your overall mood.[3]

You can practice meditating by setting a timer on your phone for 5 minutes. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, and close your eyes. Inhale through your nose and count for five breaths and then exhale for five breaths. Repeat until the timer goes off. Try to just focus on your breath. If thoughts come up, just try to acknowledge them- rather than judge them.

You can also try a Youtube Video or download an app like Headspace, which will have you follow a meditation prompt.

4. Cut down on screen time

It’s okay to use social media, watch TV, or play video games. But you should be enjoying these activities in moderation- and not relying on them as your sole source of entertainment.

If you have an iPhone, it already alerts you on your weekly screen time. Try to challenge yourself to cut that number by a third or even half.

You may worry that eliminating screens will make you feel even more bored. At first, this might happen. You might even feel a bit empty. Push through this feeling. It forces you to become creative and think of new ways to fill your time.

5. Consider adopting a pet

Pets require a lot of responsibility and discipline. They also make great companions, especially if you also feel lonely.

Pets provide an endless source of entertainment. From playing fetch to taking walks to watching them do silly things around the house, it’s hard to be bored if you’re engaged with them.

Just don’t adopt a pet impulsively. Pets can live for many years, and you need to feel ready for that kind of long-term commitment.

If you’re not sure if you’re ready to adopt, you can take this quiz by Found Animals. You can always wait a few weeks or months until you feel confident in your decision.

6. Invite friends over regularly

Make your home the place where people want to hang out. You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money to make an inviting space. Here are some low-key ideas:

  • Hosting a game night where everyone brings their favorite dish
  • Having a backyard BBQ
  • Holding a movie night
  • Doing an art project together
  • Having a playdate (if you have kids or dogs)
  • Hosting a weekend brunch

Try to make it a routine thing. Friends will be relieved that you’re the one hosting, and all the planning, preparating, and clean-up will keep you busy!

7. Make plans after work

Don’t go straight home after work. It’s much harder to get off the couch after you’ve already come home for the night.

Instead, make a detour. Even if you just go to the gym or grocery store, delay going home and keep yourself busy. This small habit can help you feel less bored. It also gives you something to look forward to at the end of the day.

8. Avoid excessive drinking

Many people drink out of boredom. At first, it may seem like a good idea because it’s something fun to do. But this mindset isn’t healthy.

Drinking can be a slippery slope. When you drink, you might feel sluggish and unmotivated. If you drink too much, you might fall asleep and get nothing done. It can also become an excuse to avoid socialization or engaging in other hobbies.

9. Try a productivity app

Sometimes, boredom and laziness go hand-in-hand. Being productive can help you feel more confident and in control. It also keeps your mind busy.

This guide by PCMag has several different apps you can download. Productivity isn’t necessarily a cure for boredom. But it can help you feel less lazy, which may help you feel less bored and tired.

10. Spend more time outside

Being outside feels good, and it’s good for you. Take a hike or go for a walk around the neighborhood. Visit a local park. Ride a bike.

Research shows that spending just five minutes outside can trigger feelings of relaxation.[4]

11. Pursue new hobbies and passions

Ideally, you want to spend your free time maximizing flow. Flow happens when you’re totally immersed in an activity or task. During flow, you’re not thinking about the time or what you need to do before or after finishing. This Ted Talk breaks down the concept of achieving flow and its benefits.

So, try something different. Learn how to cook. Watch a tutorial on crocheting. Start a vegetable garden. Solo activities can be a lot of fun- and they can be incredibly stimulating.

12. Consider making an existing interest social

If you don’t have anything productive to do at home, you’ll probably feel bored. You may even feel like a boring person.

You may try to fill the time by watching TV or scrolling on your phone, but research shows that more screen time may make you feel more depressed.[2]

Can you make one of your existing interests social? For example, if you like gaming, can you participate more in the community or join a clan? If you like plants, is there a local plant-meetup you can join?

Using your interests to socialize is a great way to find like-minded people.

If you don’t have any specific interests, see if you can find a hobby you like. Hobbies give you something to do. You’re participating and growing and using new skills. Even if you’re alone, you’re passing the time by engaging in a meaningful activity.

13. Experience something you’ve never experienced before

When was the last time you tried something new? Or changed up your routine? If you can’t remember, you might be in a rut.

It isn’t enough to wake up, get ready, go to work, and come home. The days start to blur into one another, and it can feel very depressing.

But making a change can also be hard. When you’re stuck in a rut, you might feel depressed or anxious. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Here’s something you can try: Do something you’ve never done before, preferably outside of your home. It could be taking a walk in a new neighborhood, joining a meetup, planning a trip, or taking a class.

14. Find a way to make your day feel more meaningful

We spend most of our time at work. If you don’t feel stimulated in your job, you might feel bored throughout the day.

In this case, it doesn’t matter if you’re good at the job. It’s important to feel fulfilled at work, and when that doesn’t happen, it’s normal to feel bored and burnt out.

If you don’t have a fulfilling job, is there something you can do in your free-time that fulfills you? Examples include volunteering, learning something new, or traveling.

15. Create a daily routine

If you don’t structure your day, you might end up wasting it away. How many times have you just lied on the couch watching Netflix? Then you look at the time, and you’re shocked at how many hours have passed.

A routine keeps you in check. It holds you accountable, which means you stay busy. Here’s a good article on Buffer on how to create a routine.

16. Evaluate if you experience depression

Apathy is one of the main symptoms of depression. Apathy happens when you feel indifferent about the things in your life. You lose a sense of purpose. Things may seem very dreary, and you might not have the motivation to do anything about it.

If you think you are struggling with depression, reach out for support. Medication can help stabilize your mood. Therapy can teach you new coping skills to manage your emotions.

We recommend BetterHelp for online therapy, since they offer unlimited messaging and a weekly session, and is much cheaper than going to an actual therapist's office. They are also cheaper than Talkspace for what you get. You can learn more about BetterHelp here.

If you’d like someone to talk to, give the crisis helpline a call. If you’re in the US, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357). You’ll find out more about them here: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

If you’re not in the US, you’ll find the number to your country’s helpline here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines

If you’re not into talking on the phone, you can text with a crisis counselor. They are international. You’ll find more info here: https://www.crisistextline.org/

All these services are 100% free and confidential.

What causes loneliness?

Loneliness is universal, and everyone experiences it sometimes. This fact sheet created by the Campaign To End Loneliness lists some risk factors that may increase your risk of feeling lonely.

Living alone

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but living alone can make you feel lonelier. It’s up to you to take care of the home, and there isn’t anybody to talk to when you get home. Research shows that you may be especially at risk for loneliness if you’re over the age of 70 and male.[1]

Adolescence or early adulthood

Research shows that loneliness tends to peak around age 19. Many adolescents and young adults struggle with loneliness because they want to fit in with their friends. They also want to feel accepted by others.

Being a minority

Minority populations may feel lonely if they don’t have enough social support. This can happen if they live somewhere where they don’t feel accepted or embraced. It can also happen if they experience discrimination.

Poor physical health

If you have chronic health issues or disabilities, it can affect every part of your life, including your relationships with others. For example, if you’re in pain, it may be challenging to spontaneously meet up with friends. Or, if you must attend many doctor’s appointments, it can be difficult to balance that schedule with your social schedule.

Bereavement

The death of a loved one can trigger loneliness. Depending on your relationship to the person, this loss may dramatically affect your life. Although grief is a normal emotion, it often coincides with loneliness- you may find yourself missing and longing for the person you lost.

Depression

If you have depression, you may feel lonely, even if you have a support system. Depression can create strong feelings of sadness and hopelessness. It also affects your self-esteem. These variables can make you feel lonely. Depression can also impact how motivated you feel about socializing with others, triggering a lonely cycle.

Being single

Being single or newly single can make you feel lonely. You’re more at risk for feeling lonely if most of your friends are in relationships. You may also feel the most loneliness just after a breakup.

Being a housewife or stay-at-home mom

Being home all day can make you feel lonely and depressed. It’s isolating when everyone else is at work, and you may really miss the adult interaction. If you’re a new parent, adjusting to all the changes of raising a baby can be extremely hard.

Common questions

Why do I feel bored and lonely?

You need to understand the difference between the two emotions. Boredom happens when life feels dull or meaningless. But loneliness comes from feeling dissatisfied with your social relationships. You can feel lonely if you have friends, but you don’t feel connected to them.

What’s the connection between boredom and loneliness?

Many people feel both emotions at the same time. For example, If life feels boring, you may not see the point of making relationships. Of course, this pattern can trigger loneliness. And if you’re already lonely, you may feel depressed, which can trigger boredom.

Is it unhealthy to be lonely?

It’s bad to feel lonely at times. It isn’t natural to spend every moment of your day with other people. But if you are always alone or choose to isolate, it can make you feel depressed or anxious. It can also make it very challenging to form healthy relationships.

What defines loneliness?

Loneliness can be separated into several different categories. Let’s review them.

Social loneliness: This happens if you don’t feel like you have enough social support or belong in a group. It’s that feeling of walking into a room and feeling uncomfortable because you don’t feel like you connect with anyone.

Emotional loneliness: Emotional loneliness is similar to social loneliness, but it’s more of a feeling than an actual situation. If you feel emotionally lonely, you might be longing for a romantic relationship. Or you might have friends, but wish you felt closer to them.

Transitional loneliness: Experiencing major changes can be hard, and it can trigger loneliness. Common changes include transitions like getting a new job, moving to a new location, getting married or divorced, and having a child.

Existential loneliness: Existential loneliness can happen when you start feeling more aware of your own mortality. Sometimes, the death of a loved one can trigger it- you start realizing that relationships can’t last forever, and this can be scary.

How do you know if you’re a loner?

Sometimes, people don’t really realize they’re becoming a recluse. Here are some signs:

  • You cancel plans often (or feel great when plans are canceled for you).
  • You rarely text or call your friends.
  • You feel awkward talking to people in public.
  • You’ve stopped dressing well or taking care of your basic hygiene.
  • You feel embarrassed about your lack of friends.

See our main guide for the main warning signs and the best tips on how to stop being a loner.

Do other people feel lonely?

It’s common to feel lonely. Research shows that up to 80% of young people under 18 feel lonely, and 40% of adults over 65 feel lonely.

It’s somewhat of a paradox- even though you may feel lonely, you’re not alone in how you feel.

Nicole Arzt, M.S., L.M.F.T. is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She provides therapeutic services for individuals, couples, and families. Nicole received her master’s of science degree from California State University, Long Beach in 2014.

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