8 Ways to Combat Loneliness
So many of us feel lonely from time to time, even if there are people around us. Studies show that more that 60% of married people feel lonely. Couples can become disconnected and distorted views can start to take shape which perpetuates the loneliness situation. Then there are those that feel that loneliness has taken ahold of their entire life. It is important to distinguish if your loneliness is a chronic problem or a temporary situation. How does one go about doing this?
In everyone’s life there are periods of loneliness. Because loneliness is when you’re unhappy to be alone, some people end up in a downward spiral when their strong feelings of loneliness won’t subside. Sometimes our own thoughts make us feel even lonelier. We may feel like others don’t like us or want to be around us, when that’s not the case. This can lead to Chronic Loneliness, anxiety and even depression. Studies show that chronic loneliness creates more stress, increases blood pressure and cholesterol and increases our risk of an early death by 14%.
Being alone is not the same as being lonely. A lot of people choose to be alone, but are not always lonely. They enjoy their lives, but even they can have some bouts with loneliness from time to time.
Loneliness is a feeling. If you don’t like the feeling, you must take action to change the situation that’s perpetuating the feeling. The following are some tips to encourage you to take action.
- Realize you’re not alone.
In two recent surveys, 40% of adults said they were lonely which is up from 20% in the 1980’s. There is an alarming amount of people all over the world who are lonely. You are not alone.
- Experiment with things or groups.
Some of us don’t like to exercise, but those that keep a schedule to do it and dedicate themselves, find that after they do, they feel better and healthier. This brings me to the next suggestion. Go find places to socially connect which you would find enjoyable. Maybe you could join a gym, a meditation class, a sports group, a religious organization, or a pottery class. Think about your interests and make a commitment to yourself to show up and participate. You may have to try different groups before one feels right for you, but when you get to it, you’ll feel better and less lonely.
- Get involved in volunteer opportunities.
When people are thinking of others and doing something good for someone else, they feel a sense peace. Volunteering is a great way to step out of your feelings of loneliness because you can refocus your energy on others that truly need your help. And who knows, you may just make some great, lasting relationships!
- Get in tuned with yourself.
If you enjoy being around yourself, you’ll have a greater sense of self and be happier. You’ll be able to recognize feelings of loneliness much quicker, before it has time to sabotage your day. You could write in a gratitude journal, go out to eat, see a movie or even go for a run. If you don’t know who you are, find ways to connect with yourself. Once you connect to you, making connections with others is much easier.
- Put down the devices!
For some, this is the only way they are willing to communicate with others. If you took time to put down all the devices, you’d be more likely to make in-person, human connections. I’m not saying throw everything out. I’m saying, there is a time and place for all things. If you are longing for in person, human connections you may want to put down your cell phone and other devices. Back in the sixties, families and friends used to spend time at picnics, parks and throwing ball in the backyard. “Families have 60 percent fewer family picnics and 40 percent fewer family dinners since the 1960’s” according to spectator.org. It’s okay to put down all the electronic devices on occasion in order to spend time and create relationships with those around you.
- Identify the triggers that make you lonely and have a plan.
Sentimental items, pictures, songs and other items can play a huge part in our feelings of loneliness. It is okay to put things away temporarily, so you’re able to function better day to day. Some items you store away, may bring you feelings of guilt, but remember it’s not forever. It’s only so you are able to collect and deal with your thoughts and feelings and at some point you can take the items out again.
You also need a plan. If you’re aware that the lonely bug bites you now and then, have a plan! Maybe you could call a special person in your life, have a hobby, or maybe you could knit. Whatever it is you choose, keep the thought handy so if you need it, you can use it when the lonely feelings creep up on you.
- Use your time.
So many people wish they had some solitude. Solitude is when you’re happy to be alone. Use your time to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you’ve wanted to write a children’s book, learn how to work on cars or maybe you’ve always wanted to finish college. Use your time to do something that you’ve always wanted to do or that would benefit you and your life.
- Let go of the toxic people in your life.
There is only one you! Make sure you take care of yourself. No one else is responsible for taking care of you. There are those out there that may bring poison to your life. You’ll have to recognize who those people are for you and let them go. Of course, this is easier said than done in most cases. This requires real soul searching about what you want and need to be emotionally healthy.
Loneliness can be emotionally paralyzing in many cases. If you feel you can’t get a handle on it, please see a professional for further evaluation.
I hope this article has been helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at www.samanthabonnell.com. I’d be happy to speak with you.