Why Are Teens So Lonely and 7 Things They Can Do To Combat Loneliness

why are teens so lonely and can do combat loneliness

3. Get a pet.

There is a wealth of research on the value of pets for emotional well-being. These relationships also cause the release of oxytocin as a consequence of attachment. Oxytocin is a powerful chemical in the brain that promotes feeling soothed and in touch with others. Pets provide emotional support and connection. Caring for pets is a joyful experience.

Dogs can see sadness in humans and often attempt to make their owners happy by initiating cuddling.
Why Are Teens So Lonely and 7 Things They Can Do To Combat Loneliness

Read 15 Ways Your Dog Says ‘I Love You’ According To Veterinarians

4. Practice mindful awareness.

Loneliness is your subjective feeling and perception. Many folks who are lonely experience their situation as “the way life is.” If you see this as your fate, it may well lead to a lack of motivation to change things—a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Remember that thoughts are not facts. So, nailing down some specific negative thoughts you have about your feelings of loneliness may be a start in helping you to realize how exaggerated they are. Things like, ‘I’m not worth anything and nobody likes me,” or “There is no hope for connecting with others, they all like somebody else,” are examples of how we all have thoughts that are overblown or just wrong.

I Maintain Equanimity With a Solitary Tendril of Mindfulness.
Why Are Teens So Lonely and 7 Things They Can Do To Combat Loneliness

The point of this kind of mindful awareness to change emotions is to identify the thoughts that are exaggerated or distorted and then work (with a therapist, and then on your own or with a family member or friend) to change this way of thinking.

Read 7 Simple Strategies to Increasing Mindfulness in as Little as 30 Seconds

5. Try to understand why you are lonely.

You may feel lonely because of a significant loss, by being excluded from a group or a community, or because of your state of mind, even in the company of others. It’s really important to understand that loneliness is a personal feeling. Not everyone who loses someone feels lonely. Some just feel sad.

If you feel lonely even in a crowd, it may be that earlier in life you did not have people around you who encouraged connection, understanding, or empathic communication. By figuring out from whence your personal loneliness stems, you can then find ways to address it. The key is that emotional struggles which require a change can only be solved if we find the root cause, so we can take the best next steps.

6. Immerse yourself in creative arts.

While you may find yourself alone at times, engaging in the arts can often provide relief. When we read a good book, watch a captivating movie, or lose ourselves in music or a work of graphic art, we may be able to distract ourselves from the painful feelings of loneliness and improve our mood. The arts are not only distractions, but also have healing properties in themselves.

Read 20 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

7. Join a community.

We, humans, are pack animals, not hermits. Our brains are wired for social interactions and connection. Communities are organized around missions—religious, spiritual, political, and others. They bring us together with common goals. They also help us feel that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Keep in mind that while we hope you’ll share these tips with a young person in your life, they are great for anyone, regardless of age. It’s not pleasant to feel lonely, and it may take some effort to overcome the painful feelings of isolation. But with personal effort and the support of others, there are ways we can feel connected and renew a sense of personal well-being.


This article originally appeared on and was written by the author (Dr. Gene Beresin) for the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds.
Republished with permission.
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Why Are Teens So Lonely and 7 Things They Can Do To Combat Loneliness
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Why Are Teens So Lonely and 7 Things They Can Do To Combat Loneliness
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Eugene V. Beresin

Eugene V. Beresin, M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He received a M.A. in Philosophy and M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He is Executive Director of the MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds. He is Director of the Elizabeth Thatcher Acampora Endowment, an outreach program to meet the needs of under-served youth and families in three community settings. Beresin is Director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at The Massachusetts General Hospital. He was Director of Child and Adolescent Residency Training at Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital from 1985-2013. He served as President of the New England Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and President of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Training. He also served as Editor-in-Chief of the Psychiatry Residents in Training Examination (PRITE). He was elected as a Counselor-at-Large of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He was elected to the Board of Regents of the American College of Psychiatrists. He is director of the year-long required third-year course, The Developing Physician: Lifelong Integration of Personal and Professional Growth with Sensitive, Compassionate Care, at Harvard Medical School that focuses on reflective practice, ethics, professionalism and interpersonal skills as the students take their core clerkships and develop their identities as physicians. Beresin is Deputy Editor and Media Editor for Academic Psychiatry. He has won a number of local and national teaching awards, including the Parker J. Palmer "Courage to Teach" Award in 2002, given annually by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education to 10 Program Directors from all medical specialties. In 2004, he was awarded the American Psychiatric Association and National Institute of Mental Health Vestermark Award for Outstanding Teaching. In 2008 he was awarded the Bowis Award by the American College of Psychiatrists for outstanding service to and leadership in the College. In 2010 he was appointed a scholar in the Academy at Harvard Medical School. In 2010 he was awarded the Excellence in Reviewing Award by Academic Medicine given to 14 794 reviewers for the Journal. In 2011, Beresin was awarded the Cynthia N. Kettyle Award for Medical Student Teaching by the Departments of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. Beresin has consulted to a variety of television shows including ER and Law and Order SVU. He was Consultant to the Emmy Award winning HBO children's specials, Goodnight Moon and Other Sleepytime Tales (2000), Through a Child's Eyes: September 11, 2001 (2003) and Classical Baby (2005). He co-produced a Parenting Resource website for abcnews.com. Beresin has published numerous papers and chapters on a variety of topics including graduate medical education, mental health and media, eating disorders, personality disorders, and child and adolescent psychiatric treatments.View Author posts