You Are Not Alone in Feeling Lonely

Loneliness affects us all. A recent report suggested half of us feel lonely at least one day a week. One in three young people aged 18-25 say they feel lonely at least three times a week, and research suggests millions of people feel lonely.

Almost a quarter of us now live alone. While that doesn’t automatically lead to feelings of loneliness, it can increase the risk factor.

How Does Loneliness Feel?

You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. Loneliness is a subjective state of mind. It happens when you feel bereft of meaningful contact with others when you crave the solace of human connection but find it impossible to achieve.

Certain Events Can Make You Feel Lonely

We all go through events that might conspire to make us feel lonely. Moving away from family and friends, going through a relationship break-up, losing a job, retiring from work or the death of a loved one can all lead to feelings of loneliness and a sense of social isolation.

What are the Health Impacts?

There is evidence to suggest that loneliness and social isolation are linked to dementia, high blood pressure, poor quality of sleep, and lowered immune function. Lonely people tend to exercise less and generally eat a higher-fat diet. Loneliness can cause mood swings, lack of confidence, feelings of isolation, and a general sense of dissatisfaction with life.

Loneliness can lead to depression, and depression can in turn make you feel more lonely, which is a vicious cycle.

What You Can Do To Overcome Loneliness

Start by remembering that you are probably not the only person around you who feels lonely. Just about everyone experiences loneliness at some point.

  • Speak to Someone
    Use feelings of loneliness as a sign that it is time to act. Speak to someone, either a friend or a professional, before loneliness becomes chronic or leads to depression. If you are not feeling ready to talk, try smiling. It shows others you are ready to accept an approach.
  • Find Your Tribe
    If social isolation is causing your loneliness, try and find your “tribe”. We’ve all got one. Whether your passion is gardening or sport, cooking, music manga, or dressing up as a Viking, you can always find a group of people who share that passion. Your local library or Facebook groups are a good place to start. Just ensure you are meeting new people in a safe and public place.
  • Get A Pet
    One of the many benefits of owning a dog is that it can help you feel less lonely. Cats and dogs can both offer valuable companionship and help improve your mental health.
  • Volunteer
    In helping others, you can also help yourself. Volunteering could make you feel less lonely. Just two hours a week has been shown to reduce feelings of loneliness among widows.
  • Head To The Park
    Is it tempting to stay shut indoors when you’re feeling lonely? Taking a walk in a park or green space can help combat loneliness and restore a sense of mental well-being.

Can We Help?

If loneliness has made you feel depressed, you may need to seek professional help. See Laurian Ward, and learn how to manage your loneliness.