In stressful times, it is easy to feel lonely when isolated from others. Journaling can be a powerful and proactive way to combat such feelings of loneliness. However, trying to figure out how to begin writing about such a complex feeling can feel daunting.
So… what are some examples of journaling prompts for loneliness? Below is a comprehensive list of the 10 most powerful journaling prompts for loneliness. From focusing on gratitude, to exploring how loneliness feels, to generating ideas of how to help others, there are a multitude of helpful prompts to help you work through and combat feelings of loneliness.
The purpose of these prompts is to help channel your thoughts into action, so you can better manage your feelings of loneliness and seek out the support and tools you need to overcome.
Before you dive into your journaling, it can be helpful to put intentional focus into writing. To do this, it helps to get centered, to push the outside world out, and to really focus inward on your inner-world.
To do this, find a space that makes you feel safe and calm. This could be your room, your yoga mat, or a shady spot under a tree at your local park. Once in your calm place, make sure you have the things you need for the next thirty minutes. Grab a snack, a cup of water, and a coffee or tea. Get comfortable! Always Hunter on YouTube has a great routine, check it out here.
If you really want to center yourself, light a candle or sprinkle some essential oils in your space (lavender is calming, lemongrass is brightening). Now take ten deep, slow breaths in and out. Focus on how your body feels right now. Let the outside world fade away as you focus on your breathe and your body.
Stream of Consciousness Free Write
Before you focus your attention to journaling, in the same way, that you took time to breathe and center yourself, you will now take time to expel your current thoughts and feelings. This expulsion of thoughts is called a stream of consciousness. When you are doing a free-write of this nature, the goal is to write without editing yourself.
Set a timer for five minutes. Free write about any and all free-flowing thoughts as they enter your mind for this duration of time. You’ll be surprised how quickly five minutes will pass by.
If the idea of free writing without a prompt makes you feel paralyzed then start with this:
- Write down what you hear, see, smell, and feel right now. Then explain how these sensory experiences are making you feel right at this very moment.
- Write about your most recent dream
- Write one word, whatever word comes to your mind, and branch off that word into thought. If, for example, you thought of the word “clean,” begin freewriting about what that word is making you think and feel. (ex: “Clean. I feel like I haven’t been taking care of my space enough. This is something that’s been on my mind a lot. I wonder why I don’t clean as often as I’d like myself to? What is my mental block with cleaning?)
The idea of freewriting before focusing in on a specific emotional topic, like loneliness, is to hopefully make space in your mind to give this topic its sole focus. The human attention span is so very fickle, so it’s wise to do whatever you can in your power to free up your mind to better manage your personal attention span.
Prompts for Combatting Loneliness
1. What does loneliness feel like to you?
While the feeling of loneliness is a universal feeling, it is felt differently in every individual. In order to combat your sense of loneliness, you must get in tune with what exactly loneliness feels like to you. Does loneliness make you feel sad? Does it make you feel angry? Does it send you into a tailspin of regret? Does loneliness make you hungrier than normal? Or does it stunt your appetite? Does loneliness settle in a particular part of your body, like your stomach?
Sometimes the act of explaining loneliness can take its power away. When we re-read how it affects us (ex: “Loneliness makes me feel sad, I lose my appetite and I get headaches”) we can see a clearer picture of our symptoms, which also elucidates potential solutions.
How to Find Solutions to these Symptoms
If for you, loneliness produces sadness, lack of appetite and onsets of headaches, you can look to remedies for these symptoms. To combat sadness, you could put on your favorite movie or TV show (ideally something light and comedic.) To combat loss of appetite, you could drive to a restaurant you normally love frequenting, just to smell the aroma of food. It may get your salivary glands going! And to combat headaches, you can take a soothing Epsom salt bath, full of Magnesium sulfate, which helps relax muscles and ease tension.
While attacking these symptoms one-by-one may not entirely alleviate your loneliness, it will help in managing specific ways it is taking a toll on your body and mind, which in turn to help combat this overall lonely feeling.
2. What does support, love and/or community mean to you? What does it feel like? Write about a time you felt really supported, loved, or looked after by someone or by yourself.
In addition to understanding how loneliness uniquely manifests itself inside you, it is important to acknowledge what it feels like to be supported, loved, and embraced by community.
What does the word support mean to you? Does it mean physical support? Does it mean emotional uplifting? Does it mean encouragement or loyalty? Whatever the word conjures up, write it down. Then, write down memories that are attached to this type of support. If support means loyalty to you, recall a time friends or family expressed their loyalty to you, and how that experience made you feel.
Perhaps there is a time you felt truly embraced by community. What community was it? Was it a group of friends? Was it your family? Was it a church group? What does the word community mean to you? If you have never felt a sense of community, explore that. Why do you think you have, up until this point, been bereft of community? Is this something you feel capable of changing or does the lack of community in your life feel insurmountable?
Community is often key to combating loneliness. The feeling that we belong permeates more aspects of our lives than we can comprehend. If you do not currently feel you belong with any group, or even in your own body, what can you do to mend this? Can you join a Facebook group of like-minded individuals who meet up monthly? Can you reach out to family or friends to build the community you desire?
Lastly, what does the word love mean for you? Does love conjure images of romance? Does it remind you of your mother’s hugs? Does love have a negative connotation, attached to a painful memory in your past? Write about love, when you’ve felt it, and when you’ve desperately needed it. Do your feelings of loneliness correlate with a feeling of needing love? Or is there an outpouring of love that you are unable to receive at the moment? And if so…why?
You’ll notice there are lots of questions you can ask yourself within each prompt, because loneliness is attached to so many other emotions and associative words.
3. Do you equate being alone with loneliness? Or do you feel lonely even when around others?
Some people relish the alone time. Solitude can offer rewards, like silencing ones’ mind, and getting to know oneself better, without the influence of others. Sometimes, alone time means relaxation and the ability to watch the next episode of Real Housewives while the kids sleep.
To others, alone time is frightening. Some people feel more comfortable constantly immersed in a group, than they do being alone. For some, this is a temporary feeling – they are currently going through a traumatic event and alone time is too much to handle. For others, it is a more permanent feeling that has existed for most of their lives.
What does alone time mean for you? Is alone time relaxing and enjoyable, or is it uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing? If you typically enjoy alone time, but currently find it unbearable, why do you think that is? If you have never liked alone time and it always induces feelings of loneliness, where do you think this stems from? Is it attached to a childhood memory?
Do you feel lonelier in a crowd of people than you do when by yourself? Does this sense of loneliness when around others equate to feelings of insecurity or not belonging? Is your own company more comforting than being around those you don’t feel understand you, or whom you equally do not understand?
Getting to the bottom of being alone vs. feeling lonely is very important. Being alone does not have to equate to loneliness. Just like being surrounded by people does not necessarily prevent loneliness.
4. What Actions, Behaviors And Routines Do Happy People Do?
If you aren’t sure where to begin picking yourself up and out of your loneliness, ask yourself this question: what do happy people do in their daily lives? This question probably seems vaguer and more metaphoric than it is.
The idea is to come up with a list of actions, behaviors, and daily routines that you believe are indicative of individuals in a state of positivity and happiness.
Here’s an example: “I think happy people make their beds in the morning, even when they don’t feel like it. Happy people make a healthy breakfast and try to get a full 8 hours of sleep. Happy people call their friends and family regularly, to stay in touch. Happy people have routines they follow. They also take care of their bodies by eating healthy and working out 30 minutes a day.”
You get the idea. What is it that you think happy people do? Pick just one of those actions you write down, and do them today (or tomorrow). Put into action one of these behaviors, and start physically behaving like a person who is “happy.” Researchers have found that sometimes people don’t find the motivation or the feeling they are seeking until after they are already putting ideas into action (not before).
5. What Can You Do For Someone Else Right Now?
When one gets into a state of sadness or loneliness, one can grow very self-focused. You might spiral into me-me-me thoughts like “why didn’t they invite me,” “I should be stronger than this,” and “I wish I could go back and do it all differently.” While it is good to explore these thoughts sometimes, you do not want to over-indulge them.
It’s good to acknowledge your feelings, but sometimes thoughts are like ships passing by. You can either choose to board the ship and let it take you wherever it wants, or you can simply wave at the ship passing by, thereby not indulging the idea any further.
The best way to cut the me-me-me chatter is to do something helpful or thoughtful for someone else. This can be anything under the sun. You could call a grandparent. You could send your mother flowers. You could take a friend out to lunch. You could donate your time at a local homeless or animal shelter, or join a community group to plant trees or pick up trash on the beach.
Whatever you think is in your realm of possibilities to do for someone else today, do it. Not only will it bring joy to others, it will remarkably improve your mood, and you’ll find you feel much less lonely.
6. Create Your Own Unique Positive Affirmations
One of the best ways to combat loneliness that does not rely on the help of others, is to create affirmations you can repeat to yourself throughout the day. Positive affirmations may seem like cheesy self-help book buzz words but they work.
Here are some examples of affirmations you can say to yourself when you’re feeling lonely:
- “Everything I could hope to get from someone else, I have inside of me.”
- “I am my own friend. I love my own company. I am happy when I get time to myself.”
- “Emotions are temporary. It’s okay to feel sad right now, but I will not always feel sad.”
- “I am loved, by myself, and by others.”
7. What Advice Would You Give To A Friend Experiencing Loneliness?
It can be much easier to give advice, love and comfort to someone else, rather than to give those things to yourself. Unfortunately, people are much kinder to those they love than they are to themselves. As the saying goes, we all tend to be our own worst enemies.
Therefore, you might find it easier to give advice to yourself, if you consider what advice you might give to your best friend, if they were feeling lonely. Using this prompt, write a letter to your best friend or loved one. Give encouraging, gentle, and loving words that show support. Give advice that you think your best friend would need to hear and would be receptive of.
After you finish writing, come back to this at the end of your journaling session and re-read it aloud to yourself. Really take in the words. Give yourself permission to be kind and gentle to yourself, and remember that you’ve got you. You wrote those words; you have that kindness and wisdom in you. Believe you have what it takes to push through this moment of loneliness.
8. Write Down What You Are Grateful For
This is one of the most common journaling prompts for every emotional state for a reason. Researchers have found it is difficult for humans to remain in a state of fear or sadness if they are in a state of gratitude and love. The two feelings cannot co-exist. This is exactly why so many self-help books and motivational speakers continue to encourage a focus on gratitude.
To combat your loneliness, you will write a list of 21 things you are grateful for. They can big or they can be little. Anything from health to the cup of coffee you’re sipping right now. It’s your list! Really consider the things you are grateful for, that bring you joy and relief to think about.
9. What Are You Most Afraid Of When It Comes To Loneliness?
In order to take some of the power and dread away from your feelings of loneliness, you must address the elephant in the room. What is your absolute worst fear when it comes to loneliness? What is the worst outcome you can imagine?
Write it down. It will probably feel embarrassing, like an insane person writing down a bad dream they once had. But you must do it. Even if your worst fear is “I die alone and my cat eats my face.” Write it down! Then re-read it. How ridiculous does it sound? Pretty ridiculous? Exactly.
The fears we have can’t keep ahold of us once we say them out loud, because often once we hear it repeated to ourselves, we can more aptly understand how silly they are. That’s not to say your fears aren’t valid. Of course, what you feel is valid! But the point here is to expel all the deepest darkest fears you have around loneliness, to get them out of your head, so they can’t feed off you anymore.
What grows in the dark, dies in the light. Which means… when you shine a light on the dark things in your mind, those things suddenly shrink and become less scary.
10. What Is One Gift You Can Give Yourself Today?
In the same way that you’d want to give something nice to a friend if they were feeling down, you must give yourself a gift today. It doesn’t have to be monetary; it just needs to be a gesture of kindness and consideration.
Here are a few ideas of gifts to give yourself:
- A hug
- Words of affirmation
- A scoop of your favorite ice cream
- A walk through the park
- Some friend time with your favorite person
- A good workout
- A clean home
- A visit to a kitty shelter to nuzzle some furballs
- A hot bath
- Purchasing that vacation, you’ve been saying you’ll take, for years
The Key Take Away
These journaling prompts are just a kicking off point. You can stem off from these ideas and make your own prompts. The hope is that these thoughts and questions help you to understand your loneliness better, as well as how to combat it and improve your mood.