Despite constant advances in technology and increasing social media use, many people are feeling lonelier and more disconnected than ever. While loneliness is often considered a negative life event, it does not always have to be seen in this light. Continue reading to learn how to fight loneliness, but also know that it is okay to accept—and even welcome—it in your lives.

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Be genuine

Authentic friendships flourish as self-understanding increases. Know your likes and dislikes, your values and preferences, and then seek out individuals who have similar foundations. For example, if you enjoy outdoor activities and are into fitness, you may want to join a group that meets on a regular basis for exercising together.

Such groups can be found through online forums or by word of mouth. But if you’re not genuine in your interests, your passion for the activity will quickly fade, along with any temporary friendships rooted in that same shared venture.

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Make an effort

Some people simply sit around ruminating on how lonely they are and expecting things to somehow magically change. Change requires being proactive (i.e., trying to make connections rather than passively waiting for them to come to you).

Sometimes this involves following your genuine passions while sometimes it may be a process of going outside your comfort zone and seeing what happens. A word of caution, though: while seeking out new friendships, do not to forget to continue nurturing those you already have.

See also: Meet The Women Of Hope 2018 Award Nominees

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Learn to enjoy alone time

While loneliness often has negative associations, it is not always a bad thing. It can, in fact, teach us a lot. Spending quality time alone offers an excellent opportunity for downtime; unwinding and relaxing after a stressful day.

Some people make the most out of being “alone” by catching up on their favorite television programs or novels, taking a warm bath or massage, or just treating themselves to their own preferred hobbies or interests, such as cooking or travelling.

Alone time also offers wonderful opportunities for self-reflection, by engaging in journaling, yoga, or meditation. It is psychologically very healthy to “reframe” alone time: it’s not a sad symptom of loneliness; rather, it is an opportunity to engage in self-care and learn to enjoy quality time with the most important person in life: yourself.

See also: 7 Meditation Apps To Calm Your Mind

With these tips in mind, remember the next time you experience loneliness that you are not powerless. You choose how to react to these feelings.

Either you believe loneliness is suggesting a lack of fulfillment in your life and you pro-actively try to solve the issue by trying new activities and social events, or loneliness is just part of life’s cycle and you use that time to engage in quality self-care. Your thoughts about the feeling will determine your reaction to it; ultimately, the control is all yours.

Dr. Michael Eason is a psychologist and US licensed therapist practicing at MindnLife in Central, Hong Kong. 

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