Loneliness is a common feeling and an often misused word.
Have you ever wondered what loneliness really is?
If you think it’s being alone and having to spend time with just yourself, Well think again!
Loneliness is when you feel distressed because you’re alone. You feel socially isolated and you crave to be around people but it just doesn’t seem to happen. You can feel lonely even when you’re around other people and you can be alone without feeling lonely. Going through feelings of loneliness for a long period of time can be emotionally draining and it can even take a toll on you physically.
There are steps you can take to help feel more connected and less lonely —
Loneliness can affect you mentally and physically —
Loneliness can be tied to a number of mental and physical issues. Due to the need for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, feelings of loneliness have been exacerbated, almost creating a pandemic of its own. Everyone feels lonely sometimes, yearning for connection. Unsurprisingly, loneliness does increase your risk of developing mood disorders like depression and anxiety but it can also affect you physically by putting you at risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Loneliness should be taken seriously and addressed before it takes over your life like an unwelcome guest who just doesn’t want to leave.
Social isolation versus loneliness —
Loneliness is different from social isolation. Loneliness is a feeling of being alone, whereas social isolation is a lack of social connection to others. People who interact with others can still feel lonely.
Loneliness among the over 60s —
Loneliness is a serious problem among older adults. A lot of senior citizens also experience social isolation which can lead to deepening feelings of loneliness and aggravate health conditions. Loneliness is a predator. It causes functional decline and even early death in adults who suffer from it, untreated.
How to break up with feeling lonely —
It’s important to recognise and take loneliness seriously. While it may seem like a simple emotion that you can shake off, it does have a tendency to attack when you least expect it. The reality is that it can have a huge impact on your overall health and it must be addressed.
Things to do when you feel lonely —
- Reframe the argument- Casting a different light on what it means to be alone can make it easier to navigate loneliness. Loneliness happens when your needs for social interaction and human connection remain unfulfilled. Different people have different needs, so it is a different experience for everyone.
Instead of being upset about not having Saturday night plans, think of it as an opportunity to curl up on your couch, sip on a cup of tea, read a book or watch a movie and enjoy your own company. TIme alone, with yourself, creates space for self reflection, self discovery and the opportunity to be creative.
- Fill your house with sound- Music heals everything. There is a song for every mood and every emotion. If you feel alone and lonely, fill your space with music. Music is a great distraction and escape.
- Practice gratitude- Try to notice and highlight the positives in your life instead of dwelling on the negatives. Practicing gratitude daily can help you feel better and enjoy the small wins in life.
Gratitude exercise — as soon as you wake up every morning clear your mind of all thoughts, smile and Thank your God or the universe for three things in your life you are grateful for. At the end of each day when you lay your head on your pillow, again give gratitude for three things you have received in the day.
- Make the most of your interactions- Simply spending time around others won’t always relieve loneliness. The interactions you share with people must be meaningful. The quality of your interactions can make all the difference. That’s why you might feel lonely in a large group of casual acquaintances but fulfilled by an evening with your closest friends or family.
- Go outside- A change of environment can distract you from the gnawing feeling of being lonely. A walk outside in the fresh air and being in nature can release endorphins and serotonin which will make you feel better.
- Spend time with animals- Animals may not be able to talk but they make the best mates. The presence of a pet can lift your spirits and relieve stress. Having your pet around you is all you really need. Every animal lover and owner can vouch for this.
- Get some sleep- A good night’s sleep can make everything better. You wake up refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to take on a new day.
- Think about what triggers your loneliness- Identifying what triggers your loneliness can help you address these feelings and overcome them.
- Remind yourself it isn’t permanent and reach out for help- However overwhelming it may feel, loneliness won’t last forever. Keep reminding yourself of this whenever these feelings take over. If loneliness leaves you feeling very low and hopeless, try reaching out to a friend, family member or even a mental health professional. They will be able to give you some relief, help you work through these feelings and even give you a new perspective on things.
Loneliness can strike at any age and have different triggers across our lifetime. The best way to respond to loneliness is to try and reconnect. Focus on things that make you feel happy, grounded and fulfilled. Focus on nurturing important and fulfilling relationships in your life. Loneliness is more about your state of mind than the number of appointments on our calendar or friends on social media. It’s time to #BreakUp with loneliness.