THE BLOG
03/24/2014 09:41 pm ET | Updated May 24, 2014

7 Ways to Avoid Loneliness

Loneliness is a very big issue in our society. Before the industrial revolution, most people lived close to family and friends. Connecting with each other was so much easier.

While most of us feel lonely some of the time, this is usually temporary. However, some people live with chronic loneliness, and, according to a recent CNN article , this can have far-reaching health consequences: physical pain, insomnia, increased risk for dementia, premature death, or literally breaking your heart.

Seven Ways to Avoid Loneliness

1. Golden Girls... and Boys

If you live alone, why not look for a way to share a home with other like-minded people? The Golden Girls concept was a wonderful way to live, and it doesn't just apply to women. Many people have room in their homes for one or two other people.

Of course, the challenge is to find compatible housemates, and this may take some time. Just like with finding a partner, finding a housemate with whom you can have fun and companionship, share your day, and who is open to resolving conflict isn't always easy, but it can be done.

2. Church, Temple, Synagogue, Classes, 12-Steps, Activities, Sports or other Community

Reaching out for community is vitally important, and a great way to meet people. You are more apt to meet like-minded people when you join in something that interests you. Have you ever explored meetup.com in your area? Many of my clients have met friends and partners this way.

3. Connection With Self

It's connection with others that takes away loneliness, but we can't fully connect with others unless we are connected with ourselves. Learning to connect with your own inner world, and to connect with a personal source of spiritual guidance, is vital for being able to connect with others.

While we can connect somewhat with another intellectually, this is not what takes away loneliness. Loneliness vanishes when we connect with each other from our hearts. But our hearts need to be open to connect, and if we are coming from fear -- such as a fear of rejection -- we often close our heart to protect ourselves. This shuts out connection and creates loneliness.

When we are disconnected from ourselves, we can be just as lonely in a room full of people as when we are alone.

4. Connection With a Partner

Not all loneliness is from being alone. Many people are very lonely even though they are in a relationship. As I stated above, we cannot fully connect with another when we are disconnected from ourselves. If one of both of you in a partnership are protecting yourselves from the pain of getting hurt, rather than being open and loving with each other, you will likely feel lonely.

Do your own inner work to learn to open your heart and love yourself, so that you can share your love with others.

5. Connection With a Pet

Animals generally don't have the same difficulty in connecting as people often do. Coming home to a dog who is always overjoyed to see you can do a lot to take away loneliness.

6. Embrace a Project

Getting immersed in something important to you -- a creative project, a home project, or a community project -- can bring aliveness into your life. It's hard to feel lonely when you are excited about what you are doing.

7. Help Others

One of the very best ways of moving beyond loneliness is to find ways of helping others. There are almost always others who would be grateful for your help -- women and children in battered women's shelters, the homeless, people who are very alone in nursing homes, or animals in shelters. Try reaching out to help a friend or a neighbor and see how you feel.

I'm certain there are others ways to stave off loneliness. What are the ways you have found?

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Relationships Course: "Loving Relationships: A 30-Day at-Home Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul - For partnered individuals and couples, and people who want to be partnered."