What is Loneliness?
Human being is a social animal and it is natural for him to be surrounded by people and enjoy their company. However, at times, it is also normal for him/her to look for a chance to stay alone, away from the hustle and bustle of the crowd. This might be due to his/her desire to take a break from excessive stress and responsibilities. But there can be a situation when a person would feel isolated even in the company of friends and loved ones. This is actually loneliness. To lead a healthy and productive life, one must be aware of some effective ways to cope with loneliness.
Loneliness is the state of mind or an unpleasant emotion that occurs as a result of isolation or staying alone. For some, the state of loneliness can just be a passing emotion that they are easily able to deal with, while for others, it might be a feeling triggered by sadness, fear or anxiety. Sometimes, this feeling can get so strong that the person can get into substance abuse or can face the risk of developing mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
What are the causes of loneliness?
A number of factors can make one feel lonely which can ruin a person’s mental as well as physical health. It is important to be aware of the common triggers of loneliness so that one is able to stay safe and healthy by taking some necessary preventive measures. Some of the common factors that can make one feel lonely are:
- Loss of a loved one or a friend
- No close family ties
- Living alone without friends or family members
- Introvert personality
- Inability to meet new people
- Feeling of loss or grief
- Poor health
- Mental health issues like depression or anxiety
- Fear of rejection
- Feeling of being stigmatized by others
- Inability to take part in activities
- Retirement from work
- Meaningless life
- Language or cultural barriers
- Geographic isolation
- Feeling lost in the crowd
Loneliness can trigger health problems
Loneliness can affect an individual both physically and mentally. It can make one feel alienated thus, pushing an individual toward substance addiction, mental illnesses and suicidal thoughts. Along with these, he/she can also face the risk of dementia, increased cardiovascular diseases, sleeping disorders and reduced life expectancy. Owing to increased responsibilities and stress at work, workplaces can be a big factor for giving rise to feeling of loneliness as well as mental health issues. It is very likely for such people to feel sad and lonely, which, in turn, can also make him/her feel low on energy, and less productive. This shows the need to be aware about how to cope with stress at work and thus avoid the risk of loneliness.
[ Here’s how to talk about your mental health at workplace: Read more ]
Things to do and not to do when feeling lonely
It is normal to feel lonely at times. But when such a feeling persists for long and shows a tendency of a relapse, it can actually be unhealthy, dangerous and can lead to several other issues like feeling of isolation, stress and obsessive behaviors. Therefore, one must understand the need to stay extra careful and know about some effective tips on how to deal with loneliness and isolation. Undoubtedly, there are a number of measures that can be taken to help one deal with loneliness. But since prevention is better than cure, here is a list of some activities that one must keep in mind when feeling lonely.
Things to do
- Watching a movie
- Exercising regularly
- Helping someone in need
- Striking conversation with strangers
- Talking to oneself
- Offering help
- Seeking professional advice
Things not to do
- Blaming oneself
- Restraining one’s feelings
- Negative thinking
- Refraining from making new friends
- Confusing isolation with loneliness
- Looking for triggers of loneliness
Common myths about loneliness
Loneliness has become a common problem among all age groups. Often considered as a mood swing that goes with a change in circumstance or situation, loneliness is actually a serious health condition that needs help. Therefore, it is important for all to have a clear understanding about loneliness so that it gets easier to keep oneself aware about how to cope with loneliness and depression. Some of the common myths surrounding loneliness are:
- Lack of relationships triggers loneliness
Loneliness can never be triggered due to an absence of people around an individual. It is actually caused when there are no positive vibes or feeling of connection between individuals.
- Having more friends can prevent loneliness
Having more friends does not help in avoiding the feeling of loneliness. It is more about the type of relationship one maintains with his/her friends and family members.
- Introverts are lonelier
Introverts prefer to stay alone and are not lonely. Instead, extroverts are more likely to be affected by the feeling of loneliness. This is because extroverts gain their power through social interactions and hence, reducing the same can make them feel lonelier.
- Having strong relationship within family can avoid loneliness
This statement does not hold true as people who are socially active as well as have strong relationships with those from outside family members are in a much safer zone than those who enjoy a stronger bond within their family.
- Loneliness does not affect married couples.
This holds true only for the couples who have a strong relationship or are in deep love with each other. In case, there is conflict and tension between couples, there are higher chances of loneliness making its space.
Ways to cope with loneliness
Loneliness is a feeling that makes one experience sadness, depression and anxiety. Loneliness is a state of mind that can lead to the development of numerous other mental health issues. Therefore, it is important to keep oneself informed and aware about how to manage stress and cope with loneliness. Some of the proven ways to cope with loneliness are as mentioned below:
- Identifying triggers
When loneliness affects an individual, it can be due to numerous factors like family pressure, stress at work, anxiety, etc. Thus, it becomes important for an individual to be aware of various factors that might be making him/her feel lonely. Staying aware is a great way to keep all the possible triggers at bay.
- Staying connected
Staying connected with loved ones can help prevent the feelings of loneliness and isolation. This is because talking to loved ones helps feel connected.
- Owning a pet
Owning a pet can be a great help. The playfulness of a pet, maybe a cat or a dog, can cheer up any individual. Moreover, living with a pet also keeps a person busy and helps one forget about stress and worries.
- Avoiding to blame oneself
One should understand that feeling lonely is not an outcome of one’s own behavior, rather it is caused due to a number of other factors, both personal and professional. One must remember that blaming oneself for this feeling will not help in any way instead, it might worsen the condition.
- Helping someone in need
It is undoubtedly true that there are many people around who are in need of help or assistance in some form or the other. Helping such people can serve as an effective remedy of overcoming the feeling of loneliness. Doing so can help one feel better by distracting his/her attention towards other things.
- Engaging in creative activities
Getting bored is one of the major triggers of feeling lonely. Therefore, it is better to keep oneself engaged and occupied in some creative activity or something that he/she enjoys. This can be creating a piece of art, trying a new recipe or gardening.
- Considering loneliness as a personal growth technique
Loneliness should be treated as a way to attaining personal growth. This is because spending time with oneself in solitude can make one realize things that he/she won’t otherwise. One can learn to trust himself/herself and develop a clearer understanding of oneself, which, in turn, can helps overcoming loneliness.
- Going on a solo date
Going on a solo date implies that one gets enough time to spend with oneself. This should be treated as an opportunity to be happy and celebrate life.
- Getting enough sleep
One should understand that getting enough sleep is extremely important to lead a healthy life. This is because inadequate sleep can make one feel irritated, stressed and low on energy, which, in turn, can have a severe impact on mood. Therefore, one must make sure that having enough sleep will boost mood and in turn, swipe away the feeling of loneliness.
- Reading books
Selecting a book to read should be done with caution. This is because if a person who is feeling lonely picks up a book on self-help tips on how not to feel lonely, then it can double the trouble. Instead, it is better for him/her to look for a good novel and engross oneself completely into it. Losing oneself in its story or identifying with its powerful character can help cut down the feeling of loneliness.
- Staying active
Staying active can help in releasing mood-boosting endorphins in a human brain. Going for a quick run, exercising on a daily basis, practicing meditation and yoga are some of the most effective remedies of overcoming loneliness.
- Reliving memories
Cherishing some good old memories can act as an effective remedy to loneliness. One can sit down with his/her loved ones and remember some good times spent together as a child or at other stages of life. Doing so can act as an effective way to drive away the feeling of loneliness.
- Writing a journal
Writing can help in dealing with loneliness. Opting to write what one feels can serve as an effective way to find out what actually is triggering such emotions and feelings.
- Planning a vacation
Planning a holiday is an effective way to fight loneliness. Activities like choosing a holiday destination and finding a budget hotel and airfares will help the person stay busy.
- Challenging your negative thoughts
It is important to be strong enough to stand against one’s negative thoughts. This is because allowing negative thoughts to stay in the brain might make one feel low and depressed. This can prevent from fighting against the feeling of loneliness.
Apart from these, having a clear understanding about one’s loneliness and expressing one’s emotions can serve as a great help. It is also important to understand and accept that there are many others who are dealing with the same emotions. Staying busy, engaging oneself in social activities, spending time with one’s family and learning a new skill are some of the other ways that can help one feel better despite the feeling of loneliness.
Loneliness is a feeling or an emotion that can seem unmanageable. It can damage an individual’s mental health, but being aware of how to manage stress and how to deal with loneliness without friends can be a great help. Therefore, don’t let the feeling of loneliness be a trouble. Instead, be strong, opt for some self-help tips or seek help from an expert for a healthy life again.