Overcoming Loneliness: How To Develop a Flesh-And-Blood Support Group

lonelinessMy friend leaned across the table. In a low voice she said, “I could never work from home like you do. I’d miss being around people too much.”

Actually, she has a valid point. At one time or another, most freelancers do face the problem of loneliness.

While it is great having virtual friends and colleagues from all walks of life and all over the world, there comes a time when most of us want to be around real people.

Loneliness might happen during a work-related crisis, a family-related crisis, or a personal crisis. Or, it might just be the consequence of spending too much time in front of your computer. Whatever the cause, that virtual contact just won’t do. You need a flesh and blood support group.

I’m fortunate in that I have several good friends that I can meet for lunch about once a month. So, I don’t really feel as isolated as I could feel. I can say this though, it’s a real treat for me to get out of the office and get face to face with another person. My local friends serve as sort of a support group for me and I appreciate their willingness to listen.

Since many freelancers work from home, we don’t often get the opportunity to make friends locally. Consequently, some of us don’t have a flesh and blood support group.

That’s where this post comes in handy.

8 Tips For Developing a Local Support Group

Here are eight tips for meeting people, developing friendships locally, and overcoming the loneliness of working from home.

  1. Keep in touch with former contacts. Stay in touch with former classmates and coworkers. Although you no longer see each other on a daily basis, these individuals can become the basis of your local support group (especially if they still live in the area).
  2. Join a professional society. Everyone knows that professional societies are a great way to make business contacts, but they also provide a great foundation for friendships. After all, you already have something in common with the other members.
  3. Take a class. Continuing your education can build your skill set. Taking a class can also get you out of the office and into an environment with other people. Check with your local college to see if they offer any non-degree courses for working adults.
  4. Go to a meetup. Some social networking sites are now offering participants who met online the opportunity to meet offline. Usually, meetups are regionally based and some of them meet quite often. Why not get to know your virtual colleagues a little better?
  5. Attend a convention or trade show. Conventions and tradeshows offer another opportunity for people who met virtually to get to know each other “in real life.” Usually, popular bloggers and web personalities offer seminars. Many conventions feature a social aspect as well.
  6. Volunteer. If you volunteer, not only will you be helping your community, but you’ll also get to know the other volunteers. Charitable organizations are usually desperate for helpers. Most volunteer organizations are willing to let you come in at the times that are most convenient for you.
  7. Join a social or religious organization. Do you have something that you’re passionate about? Take the next step and get personally involved in your cause. You will meet other like-minded people and you will have the satisfaction of living out your convictions. A few organizations even offer perks such as training classes or periodic social gatherings.
  8. Get a pet. Okay, a pet isn’t a human. However, a pet can be a great flesh and blood companion. Most of them are pretty good listeners. If you work from home, you don’t have to worry about the pet getting lonely during the day. You’ll also meet other people when you take your pet out.

Share Your Experiences

Have you faced feelings of isolation and loneliness as a freelancer?

Do you already have a flesh and blood support group? If so, how did you develop your support group?

Share your thoughts.

Image by LaPetra