“Lonely is not being alone, it’s a feeling that no one cares. You never realise how lonely you are until it’s the end of the day and you got a bunch of things to talk about and no one to talk to.” Vinita Alvares Fernandes delves into the depths of loneliness.
For those of you who have brushed off the word “Lonely” here’s some news, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the almost two years of social distance and stay home to stay safe there has existed a greater pandemic, a slow-painful disease, a disease that is not Tom-Tomed about, a disease that which can be kept a safe secret for years on end until it gets chronic enough for those who care to recognize it in your loved ones.
It’s called Loneliness.
“Lonely is not being alone, it’s a feeling that no one cares. You never realise how lonely you are until it’s the end of the day and you got a bunch of things to talk about and no one to talk to.”
Today we are living with a combination of two pandemics, COVID-19 plus LONELINESS and other mental health concerns. It is the complete opposite of what comes naturally to us humans and the only difference between the two pandemics is that Loneliness has existed one-on-one where as with COVID we are all forced into it together.
I’m sure all has been said and will continue to be said about COVID-19, leaving Loneliness side tracked, but do you know that loneliness can increase your risk of dying prematurely by 30%, it compares to smoking fifteen cigarettes a day or fighting obesity. Yes it is that important an issue in today’s world.
What is Loneliness and how is “being alone” different from “being lonely”?
“Being alone” is a conscious state of being, where you are perfectly happy being with yourself. You are content with time alone, in fact you look forward to this alone time.
On the other hand ‘being lonely’ or “loneliness” is an emotional state of mind, a subjective feeling that is never desired but rather something you sink into and lessening these feelings can take a long time. You are not anti social, friendless or loveless but you perceive or imagine your social relationships to be void of friendship and love. You can be lonely in a crowded room.
What counts as being lonely?
The inability to connect with others on a deeper, more intimate level. Having no close or “best” friends. That overwhelming feeling of isolation regardless of where you are and who’s around, along with negative feelings of self-doubt and self-worth. If this lies dormant, professionally unattended, it will keep mounting until it becomes chronic loneliness.
This is why I endorse again and again that the minute you stop enjoying alone time, when this alone time no longer brings happiness but rather a feeling of isolation, social discomfort and lasts over a period of time. Make it your business to snap out of it. Do not let it fester into chronic loneliness.
Repercussions of letting loneliness fester:
If left unchecked, these chronic loneliness symptoms can put you at greater risk for more serious medical and emotional problems like; Depression, sleep disorders, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, mental health issues and even substance abuse.
What am I going to do to snap out of loneliness?
- If you become aware of your “being lonely” condition soon enough, and you feel you could handle it with a friend, let me tell you that this is only a temporary fix. You can always talk to your friend to vent, but seeking professional guidance is the way forward to an almost permanent cure, It is a strong helping hand on how to deal with your loneliness effectively. So talk to your doctor or therapist as very often the problem is tied to something more deep-rooted.
- While engaged in therapy, make a conscious effort and it is not going to be easy, connect with people in a positive, healthy way. Man was not made to be an Island, we need people, we need relationships, we need to laugh and interact with people.
- Since we are still in and out of lockdown situations, you can do interact on social media by not just ‘like’ a message, but post a meaningful comment too. Video chats with a friend, attend webinars to keep yourself engaged with people. Other options are volunteer work, which always feels rewarding. When life normalizes have different groups of friends, an exercise friend, a book club friend, a foodie friend, a shopping friend, a movie buff friend. Keep the groups small, this way it stays meaningful.
- My mood elevator without a doubt is exercising; it starts your day with letting out “endorphins” the happy hormone, add a bit of fresh air and sunlight and “voila” you have your share of oxygen and vitamin D too. It really sets the tone for the day and you can repeat this in the evening too, it will add to a good nights sleep.
- Find a support group, it does not fall in your lap, you will need to structure this. Find people who have been through similar situations like a divorce, loss of a partner, substance abuse, the encouragement from people who may share the similar feelings will ease your symptoms and prevent it from growing into a chronic state.
Long-term loneliness can afflict all types of people. It’s easy to assume that someone who’s naturally shy and introverted might be most at risk, but outgoing, Type A, personalities can also suffer from chronic loneliness, even though they may appear to be the life of the party. Know that loneliness is not exclusive to any one personality type. Chronic loneliness is not just about feeling alone; if left unchecked it can put you at risk for serious physical and emotional issues. Feeling lonely is a sign that you need to reconnect and maybe do some things a bit differently. Being aware is half the battle won.
“Feeling lonely sometimes is a good thing. It makes us appreciate the care and kindness we receive from our loved ones.”
Everything in life does indeed have a lesson to learn.