No matter what you’re going through at the moment, connecting and communicating with others is the key to living well, especially if you’re struggling with an illness, depression, addiction, the loss of a loved one, or even just loneliness. For this reason, it’s important to know what to do and where to look when you need to talk.
Trying to stuff your feelings, grit your teeth, and go it alone, is never effective. In fact, your emotions and feelings are there whether you talk about them or not. They are not going to simply go away just because you ignore them.
But if you make the effort to talk to another person, you may be able to release some of the tension and negativity that you’re experiencing and feel better in the end.
Here’s a closer look at the benefits of talking to others and how to find people to talk to when you feel alone or isolated.
Benefits of Talking to Others
Finding someone to talk to not only provides connection, comfort, and understanding, but also offers opportunities to talk about shared experiences as well as prevent loneliness and isolation.
Stress Relief and Friendship Building
Consequently, talking to another person relieves stress and helps build friendships and connections.
Talking things over with other people also aids in decision-making and allows you an avenue to process your thoughts and feelings. Talking also exposes you to new perspectives and ideas and helps with problem-solving. In fact, there are a number of powerful psychological benefits to talking.
According to research from UCLA, talking can diminish the response of your brain’s amygdala, which initiates the fight or flight response when you’re feeling intense emotions like fear, anxiety, or aggression.
As a result when you get stressed out or overwhelmed, this part of your brain takes control and can even override your more logical thought processes.
But researchers noted that by using “affect labeling,” or talking through your experiences and processing what happened, you can override the amygdala’s response and cope with your feelings in a more effective way.
Friendships May Add Years to Your Life
Additionally, research suggests that having strong social ties, or people you can talk to, is linked to a longer life. In contrast, social isolation and loneliness are linked to depression, poorer health outcomes, and a risk of premature death.
Additionally, having a variety of social relationships—or people you can talk to—may help reduce stress as well as heart-related risks. So, it’s important to find people you can share things with.
Too many times, though, people are reluctant to reach out to others to talk despite its many benefits. Either they allow fear and shame to keep them silent, or they simply don’t know how to reach out.
Other times they allow work or family obligations to get in the way of any type of real connection with others. And before long, they feel lonely and isolated and like they don’t have anyone to talk to.
Finding Someone to Talk To
If you’re like most people, you may assume that you have no one to talk to, especially if you live far from family, are single, or don’t have a best friend. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, it may really be easier to find someone to talk to when you really need it, if you know where to look. Here are some ways you can find someone to talk to.
Make a List of Social Connections
When you start thinking about who you might be able to open up to, start by making a list of your social connections. Include people you know from a variety of situations like family members, friends, Facebook friends, and even co-workers.
Then, try to determine who on your list is not only emotionally intelligent but also emotionally skilled. Typically, people with these skills tend to be much easier to talk to because they are empathetic. Once you have a list of possibilities reach out to them and invite them for coffee or to go for a walk.
However, you need to recognize that you will have to go slow. You won’t be able to talk about your deepest feelings right from the start.
With time, though, you can build trust with one another and start sharing more and more intimate details about your life.
Of course this approach is not ideal if you’re in a crisis and need to talk to someone right away, but it is an important part of building a support system.
Join an Online Forum or Chat
During those times when you feel like you need to talk with someone right away, you might want to consider an online forum or chat with a group tailored to your needs.
Aside from providing you with people who get what you’re struggling with, you also have the option of sharing details anonymously.
Sometimes people really appreciate the immediacy of an online forum or chat. Plus, communicating online can help take away any apprehension or help people with social anxiety relax and share.
Participate in a Support Group
One way to build your support system is to join a support group. Whether it’s an online group or a group that meets in person, both options provide you with a network of people who can relate to what you’re experiencing.
There, you will be able to get the support and understanding that you need as well as offer support to others in similar situations.
Work With a Therapist
Whether you need to discuss a mental health issue, want help managing your stress, or just need to find ways to be more mentally healthy, a good therapist can help you make sense of your feelings and emotions.
Therapists can help you develop healthier coping mechanisms and may even be able to provide input on how to build a support network.
If you don’t have insurance or if your insurance doesn’t cover mental health issues, some counselors and therapists work on a sliding fee scale.
You also may want to check out online therapy providers as well. In addition to being more conducive to busy schedules, sometimes these options are more affordable too.
Participate in a Group
A great way to make connections and meet new people is to join a group. Once there, you will meet people with similar passions and desires and you are more likely to meet someone that you can build a lasting friendship with.
Plus, attending regular meetings and events with the group provides you with the opportunity to socialize and have a casual conversation.
Contact a Hotline
If you are in crisis, it’s important to get help right away. For this reason, never hesitate to call a hotline. Regardless of your need, there are crisis lines with trained advocates there to help you.
Many times, they will listen and chat with you for as long as you need. Whether you want help with a drug addiction, domestic violence, an eating disorder, or even thoughts of suicide, there are people available to talk almost any time of day.
Visit a Place of Worship
Churches, mosques, and synagogues are a great place to find someone to talk with. Often, religious leaders are more than happy to talk with people in crisis or in need. So, you may want to look to your local church or synagogue as a possible resource.
Even if you don’t have a religious affiliation right now, you may want to pursue different options and see if there is a place of worship that fits with your values and beliefs.