The corona pandemic has shown how painful it is to be separated from other people. To no longer meet, smell, hug. Even before that, there were a shocking number of people who were lonely. Today there are even more. The consequences are serious; physical and psychological problems can follow. However, loneliness is not a fate – because you can free yourself from it. Ten tips.

Am I lonely? If you’re wondering this, you can take a little test to find an answer. Scientists developed three simple questions to get exactly this initial rough assessment.

1. How often do you feel like you miss the company of others?

2. How often do you feel like you are left out?

3. How often do you feel like you are socially isolated?

If you answer “never,” you get one point, “rarely” two, and “sometimes” three. For “often” you can write down four points and for “very often” five.

According to researchers, anyone who ends up with an average of at least 3 points is very likely to be lonely. More points means greater loneliness. Of course, this is just an indication. But someone who can help you think about whether you want to change something.

Anyone who has a few points in the above test should make two things clear to themselves. First: Loneliness is not a disease. It is a feeling that, like hunger, shows us that something is missing. Anyone who feels lonely should see this feeling as an invitation to take their desire for closeness, togetherness and belonging seriously. Secondly: As a lonely person you are in good company, because many others feel the same way as you. However, you should not accept that. You can often make the necessary changes yourself.

“Hello” – that’s sometimes not so easy to say. But it’s worth it, if only for the smiles you get in many cases. It shows that you have built a connection with someone – even if only briefly.

Sometimes a greeting turns into a conversation, a small talk, for example about shared train anecdotes while waiting for the train, about the weather, the garden or the exhibition you are strolling through. At the end of the day, these very few minutes could determine whether you fall asleep feeling good. In the small town of Luleå in northern Sweden, the Hej campaign against loneliness took place last year for precisely this reason. On buses and building walls, people were encouraged to simply say “hello” to each other on the street.

One of the best ways out of loneliness is through a continuum, a regular activity with like-minded people. To do this, you should think about what makes you happy. If you like reading, you could join a book club. Others may feel comfortable in a sports club, a choir or try out a community college course. If you can’t find the right one, you could also start a group yourself. In England, socializing is even available on prescription. There, doctors, social workers or even community nurses can simply prescribe helping together to their patients. This is called social prescribing. Together with a so-called link worker or coordinator, patients can then choose whether, for example, they want to do group sports, cook, dance or learn a language.

Studies repeatedly show that it’s not just people’s life satisfaction that increases when they volunteer. Volunteering is also a good way to prevent your own social isolation.

There are so many ways to help that it’s hard to list them all. There are retired teachers who help children with their homework, volunteers who train young people in the soccer club, read to residents of a retirement home, distribute food at the food bank or work in a social department store. Still others support refugees with administrative procedures or are involved in neighborhood assistance. Ideas and projects can be found, for example, at “” or “”. The following applies to everyone: you get paid with the good feeling of being a valuable fellow human being and part of a community.

Virtual contacts do not have a good reputation. But even if they can’t make up for a meeting with a friend, meetings via cell phone and computer have their value. Maybe you are no longer able to visit your school friend from back then or your grandchildren on the other side of the country due to health reasons. With a video call you can still take part in your life or just get a few things off your chest when things aren’t going well.

Here too, researchers are certain: with a pet you are often less lonely. Dogs, cats and birds provide company. They structure everyday life and they challenge their owners. Because animals have to be fed and cared for. As a result, people experience self-efficacy. If that’s too much responsibility, work or money for you, you can also become a part-time ruler. Many animal shelters, for example, are happy to welcome people who want to take their dogs for a walk. Or you can take care of the cat or rabbit when the neighbors are on vacation.

Canadian writer Margaret Atwood wrote in The Blind Assassin: “Touch comes before sight, before language. It is the first language and the last.” In fact, it is the first of all senses to develop in newborns and physical contact remains a basic human need throughout life. Science has shown time and time again how important it is for mental and physical health. Pleasant touch, for example, causes the release of the happiness hormone oxytocin. Stress hormones are reduced and the body relaxes. But we live in times of chronic lack of contact. This knowledge also gave rise to cuddle parties, where people touch, hug and caress each other under set conditions. If that’s not your thing, you can try different types of massages or simply let your friends hug you.

Even if it sounds like a contradiction, you can also combat loneliness by learning to enjoy time alone: ​​buy yourself flowers, cook yourself something delicious! You can also have a good time if you go to the cinema or an exhibition without friends. You should quickly banish thoughts like: “It’s not worth it for me alone!”

But if loneliness is difficult to cope with on your own and you don’t know what you should do to make it better, then it’s time to get help. And you can get them here, among other things:

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