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Depressed woman sitting on sofa at home on her phone

Logging out of Loneliness

Jill Tracey

Are you lonely? I wouldn’t be surprised if you said yes. These days it seems like we’re all extremely busy and – at the same time – incredibly lonely.  

We’re so busy! 

Our days start fast and furious. We’re up early to make sure our loved ones have what they need. Then it’s off to work for at least eight hours, working on projects, meeting deadlines, having meetings about those projects and their deadlines, and putting out fires. Then back home for dinner, chores, and running to the store AGAIN to grab that desperately needed item no one thought to say anything about. Finally, we collapse in bed, mentally forming our to-do list for tomorrow before we close our eyes. Then it’s time to do it all again the next day! 

No wonder we’re worn out. No wonder we’re lonely! We’re surrounded by people, but not really connected with anyone.

Things could be different! 

The more I think about it, I realize there are a few things, in addition to busyness, that can lead to that feeling of being isolated and disconnected, which leads to loneliness and even depression. I wonder if you see some of the same culprits in your life.  

Screens, screens, screens 

When my screen time goes up, my relationships always suffer. Personally, this is one of the hardest things for me to combat, especially when I’m tired and especially since I ALWAYS HAVE A SCREEN in my hands or just a few feet away. Here’s what happens… 

After a long day/week/month of work, a little vegging is called for. I settle in with the dog on my lap and turn on the TV to continue binging “my show.”  

Then it’s dinner and my family are also worn out from school and work. Why don’t we just eat on the couch and watch our “family show” or some YouTube?  

Even at bedtime it’s so easy to grab that little hand-sized computer and start scrolling until my hands hurt from holding the phone too long.  

Yeah, I hear ya. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a little downtime. But I’ve found the more time I spend online, the more I want to stay there. And even when I’ve rewarded myself with a good veg session, I can still feel depleted because I’m not getting filled up in any of the right ways.  

Skipping time with my God and my people 

When I get too busy, I easily get out of the habit of reading my Bible and praying. I also neglect the chance to really communicate with my family by doing things together like sitting down for a meal. And time with friends?!  Let’s just say… the last time a friend invited me out, I was already in my jammies, had ordered DoorDash, and was just about to watch “our show” with Jeremy.

Or maybe… 

Maybe you’re not lonely because of busyness or screens at all. Maybe you’ve found yourself here because of a move or a falling out with friends or family and need help to step out of your comfort zone to find community. 

Whatever the reason you find yourself feeling alone and lonely, I want to invite you to join me in a challenge to log out of loneliness and log in to the messier but much more fulfilling world of real connections!  

Here are some small changes we can make. See if there’s one you might try! 

Take time out – We so often work hard all day … even right through lunch. Let’s challenge ourselves to sit down and enjoy those precious few moments – maybe even (gasp!) away from our desks. This could also be a time to connect with a coworker or call a friend to catch up for a few minutes. Maybe it won’t happen every day – but maybe one or two times a week.  

Limit your screens – Set a limit on your phone or an alarm to tell you it’s time to be done with your TV, computer, and phone for the day outside of necessary calls and texts. It’s amazing how much time you’ll suddenly find to go for a walk or check in with your people. 

Meet someone IRL – Carve out 45 minutes to an hour and meet a friend at that coffee shop you’ve wanted to try. Then put your phone away and focus on your friend. The temptation for me is to think maybe she doesn’t WANT to meet up. But I almost always find that she does, she’s just busy too and maybe even waiting for me to initiate.  

Volunteer at a local homeless shelter, school, or food pantry – Sometimes investing in the lives and wellbeing of others is the perfect way to stave off isolation and loneliness. It will fill your heart up and you’ll feel so good knowing you’ve helped someone else.  

Call your mom or grandma – It’s very likely there’s someone in your life who’s lonely too, and an amazing cure is hearing from those you love and miss most – whether you’re the one receiving the call or making it.  

Pray with your spouse or kids out loud at dinner or bedtime – Take a few minutes to ask what’s weighing on their hearts or about any concerns over upcoming tests or projects. Really listen and spend some uninterrupted time praying together. Before long you’ll start feeling connected again. 

Start your day with God instead of Instagram – Starting my day with the One who made it always leads to a better morning. Not a perfect one, but one filled with more peace than panic. It also allows space for Him to speak to me and maybe put someone on my heart to reach out to. Plus, nobody needs to start their day comparing an unpolished self with the very polished (but usually very fake) presentations of people who seem to have a better life than we do.

Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14

Go to church – There are so many reasons to go to church – to worship God, learn more about the Bible, serve others, and to find friends and community! Join a small group or Bible study if you’re having trouble getting to know people. Or volunteer in an area that interests you like teaching middle schoolers or toddlers, playing in the worship band, or making coffee and greeting visitors. Your people are there… sometimes you just have to go find them. 

But always start here! 

No matter what you decide to try, I hope you’ll begin by asking God to fill your heart in the way only He can. Loneliness can often be the result of a void we’re feeling, and my words are just words if they don’t point you to the only One who can fill all the holes and offer the only true balm for your lonely soul.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. ” – Psalm 73:26