Despite the growing global population, more people report feeling lonely and isolated than ever before. In a world of more than 7 billion, most of us feel alone, abandoned, or rejected, and we long to feel like part of a group. Humans are social animals and need to feel that they belong somewhere. We don’t like loneliness.

Many researchers predict that we will soon have a “loneliness epidemic,” and unfortunately, prolonged loneliness can increase your chances of early death by 30%.

So, how can you combat this potentially deadly feeling and get more connected to others?

Here are 7 Ways To Overcome Loneliness

1. Reach out to others, and join groups with similar interests as yours.

In order to overcome loneliness, you need to feel a common bond with others. How do you go about doing this? Well, the easiest way is to research local meet-ups and groups that you have an interest in joining. If you enjoy cycling, why not share your favorite hobby with others in your area? If you look around, you will find that other people long to connect just as much as you do, so don’t hesitate to reach out to them.

We all have an intrinsic need to feel accepted by others, and connecting with like-minded people could turn out to be the best decision you’ve made for your mental and emotional health.

2. Get to know yourself better.

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” – Wayne Dyer

In all honesty, you must learn to enjoy your own company before you can truly appreciate the company of others. Otherwise, you will only want to connect with other people out of desperation in an attempt to escape from yourself. You have to go deep within and break all the chains that bind you so that you can finally leave behind any emotional trauma from the past.

You must learn to totally love yourself before anyone else can offer you the same sentiment. Otherwise, you will continue to feel loneliness even in a room of thousands, unless you heal your wounds from the inside out. It will seem much easier to connect with others once you’re fully in tune with your own self.

3. Talk to someone new when you’re out and about.

How many times do you notice people’s heads in their phones when you go out in public nowadays? Maybe you have fallen into this habit as well, so try to put away your phone for a change and go up to someone new. Strike up a conversation with the girl at the grocery store check-out, or the person waiting at the bus stop, or the jogger at the running trail that you frequent.

You have a chance to connect with someone pretty much anywhere you go; we have a world occupied by more people than ever before, so really, we all don’t have much of an excuse for feeling lonely. It just takes reaching out to someone and not limiting ourselves to our current reality.

4. Spend less time on technology, and more time in the real world to avoid loneliness.

We can instantly connect with almost anyone online, but it just doesn’t compare with a face-to-face human connection. We can’t hug someone online, or see the change in their facial expressions, or feel the energy of the person through the computer or phone. Try to limit your technology use to a few hours a day if you can. Indeed, you will find that you have much more time to bond with your current friends and even make connections with new ones. If you don’t know where to start, first think about the businesses or parks you frequent. You likely talk to the same people at the places you go most often, so why not try to cultivate a friendship with them?

5. Ask yourself if your feelings actually represent reality or not.

Not to argue that loneliness is definitely a growing reality in our modern world, but does a temporary feeling accurately depict your entire life? Maybe you have a tight-knit group of friends and family, but just feel lonely in the moment. If that’s the case, try to figure out what brought this feeling on. Has it been a while since you last saw your friends? Should you call your family to check in with them? Or, maybe you need to do some self-reflecting and spend some time alone for a while, just reconnecting with yourself.

Sometimes our feelings don’t always mirror our reality, so make sure to tune in to these emotions whenever they arise.

6. Focus your attention on helping others instead of focusing it on your own feelings.

Volunteering makes a great way to both connect with other people, and also take the focus off of yourself. Think about how many people live on the streets every day with virtually no source of consistent food or water, no safe place to lay their heads at night, and no real friendships to support them.

So many people suffer much more than we could ever imagine, and we can all do something to help them. By helping others, you will, in turn, help yourself, so look for local charities or soup kitchens to volunteer your time at. This will instantly make you forget about any loneliness you may have felt before, and reconnect you to one of the basic foundations of human existence: helping one another.

7. Get involved in activities that you truly enjoy.

You don’t have to join a group to meet other people. For instance, if you enjoy traveling, you will likely cross paths with other people along the way who share your love for seeing new places. On your bike route, you will probably meet someone else who also cycles along the same path, and maybe you can make this person your biking buddy. Or, you might find a new workout buddy at the gym you go to. Indeed, there are countless ways to meet new people, you just have to release any fears you might have and open yourself up a bit.

We all have more similarities than differences, so you can find a common bond with almost anyone if you try. You CAN overcome loneliness; all it takes is a commitment to reaching out to others, and the willingness to open your heart to others who long for connection just as you do.