What Can You Do When You Feel Lonely and Sad?

There's a type of loneliness that arises from a feeling of disconnection from your surroundings. In fact, not feeling validated or not finding meaning in what surrounds you generates sadness and sometimes even anguish. However, what can you do in these instances? We give you some tips.
What Can You Do When You Feel Lonely and Sad?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

What can you do when you feel lonely and sad? Romantic artists such as Caspar David Friedrich, Heinrich Füssli, and Goya were said to have made their loneliness and melancholy an exercise in contemplation and inspiration. They were called painters of the cosmic twilight because they saw, in those hours before nightfall, an ideal setting for their creations.

It’s true that lonely people have often found magical refuges in which to take shelter, meet and grow in many ways. In the emotional, as well as the artistic, and spiritual realms. However, modern times are different, and, right now, loneliness is a silent epidemic that can cause serious mental health problems.

In fact, many people today feel disconnected from their environment. This rupture of what gives meaning, transcendence, and purpose to the human being, generates suffering. Because, in this fast-paced world, there are many who remain confused and at a point of stagnation. Indeed, they view everything from a perspective of perplexity and misunderstanding. Nevertheless, loneliness isn’t only due to isolation. The feeling also arises when people feel disconnected from those around them. This generates feelings of sadness, frustration, and even fear. What can be done in these circumstances?

“Solitude is a beautiful thing when you have someone to talk about it with.”

-Gustavo Adolfo Becquer-


Feeling lonely

As we mentioned earlier, nowadays, loneliness is a silent epidemic. Research, such as that conducted by King George Medical University in India states that loneliness by itself isn’t a disease, but it can be the trigger for associated ailments to appear.

The problem of loneliness is not so much that you’re physically isolated from the rest. Actually, this feeling defines a mental state that, in turn, generates a complex emotional reality. In fact, feeling misunderstood, lacking purpose, and not finding meaning in what surrounds you frequently build feelings of isolation.

Let’s take a look at what can help you when you feel lonely and sad.

1. Name it: Label your emotions

Dealing with feelings of loneliness and sadness doesn’t mean looking for company. As a matter of fact, the answer and the relief for your emptiness doesn’t lie outside, but inside yourself. Therefore, you must first put a name to what you’re feeling. This is necessary so that it acquires a presence.

A study was conducted by the University of California that reminds us of the importance of emotional labeling. They claim that expressing in words what you feel allows you to make your problem visible. Consequently, it can be treated. This is always the first step to take.

You have to talk and put a name to what hurts, so that it hurts less.

Take stock of the relationships you have right now

You may have a partner, many friends, and family who you see frequently. However, it’s always good to take stock and ask yourself how those relationships that build your existence make you feel. Do they make you happy? Do they support you? Do they give meaning to your day-to-day life or do they hinder your dreams, perhaps even judging your way of being?

Love isn’t always everything, but good love is. You need an affection that enriches, encourages, and lets you be. Therefore, when you feel lonely and sad, it’s a good time to rethink many of your socio-affective bonds. Ask yourself if you’re with who you really deserve to be with.

Ask yourself questions to find out what you need

Talking to yourself isn’t crazy, it’s an effective mental health strategy. Because there are times when you operate on autopilot, letting things happen by themselves, without ever taking control. Then, anguish, sadness, and fear appear, for no apparent reason. At this point, you must talk to yourself and ask yourself some questions.

Are you where you want to be? How do you feel? What could you do to feel better? Where are you in your life right now and where do you want to end up?

Slow down and reduce stimulation

Life sometimes passes so fast that it goes by in a blur. You just keep going like someone aimlessly climbing a ladder. Maybe it’s time to get off and go against the tide. To take things at a different pace. Because slowing down and living a more leisurely life will allow you to clarify your priorities.

Make small changes

Small changes often make massive transformations. In fact, new stages of life often begin with a simple change in routine. For example, perhaps it’s time to restart those studies you abandoned halfway through. Or maybe you should make that call to your friend you haven’t seen in a while.

Going on a trip, reading a new book, or even taking a different route to work can allow you to suddenly appreciate new realities that you hadn’t realized before.

Loneliness and negatively valenced emotions can fade if you introduce new habits into your life. That’s because you often reinforce behaviors that only bring you suffering. You must deactivate them.

Woman in the field thinking about what to do when you feel lonely and sad?

Clarifying your purpose: The key to moving forward

We live in a society that makes us feel increasingly alone, sad, and apathetic, even though we’re more connected than ever before. If these connections aren’t genuine, you’ll fall down a hole full of dissatisfaction and get stuck there. This isn’t right. You must remember what gives you meaning, what motivates you, and what gives you reasons to move forward.

You must clarify your purposes from time to time. That’s because you change over time and you need to update your goals and objectives. Explore your interior. Dive into the depth of your desires and discover what excites you. That’ll be the key to escaping your feelings of loneliness and you’ll be able to start to look to the horizon with hope.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Tiwari SC. Loneliness: A disease?. Indian J Psychiatry. 2013;55(4):320-322. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.120536
  •  Torre J, Lieberman M. Putting feelings into words: Affect labeling as implicit emotion regulation. Emotion Review. 2018;10(2):116-124. doi:10.1177/1754073917742706

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.