LONELINESS AND TIPS ON HOW TO SHAKE IT OFF!
Nowadays, loneliness is becoming too common and taxes the body and mind.
Psychology Today explains in an article that the human race is wired to be social and our brains react to the stressors of loneliness by triggering the release of stress hormones like Cortisol.
Unfortunately, those stress hormones are known to have many damaging effects on the body over time.
In fact, research shows that loneliness has been linked to inflammation and even higher mortality rates. Asthma and auto-immune diseases are more often observed in individuals suffering from chronic loneliness. It has even been declared that the effects of loneliness on the body are greater than obesity and smoking.
Social isolation is one type of loneliness and can occur at any age. As families tend to be smaller than in the past and often broken from divorces, it is more common for people to experience loneliness at least at some point in their lives:
You can feel isolated as an only child or if you do not get along with your siblings. Shyness can also make it more challenging to make friends. Because belonging is so important as you grow up, you can experience deep isolation if you are different and not perceived as fitting with the rest of the group.
In our late 20’s and early 30’s, most people start marrying and having a family. Consequently, the few remaining single friends are left behind and their support system is now shrinking.
Since a lot of parents nowadays shape their lives around kids, it is harder for new empty nesters to adjust and reinvent themselves when kids finally leave home. This could be exacerbated by the fact that many parents are divorced. Those individuals have little time for themselves, juggling parenthood and work, and often struggle when kids grow up and leave.
Later in life, you start losing friends and sometimes a spouse or partner to diseases or old age.
Meanwhile, loneliness does not have to be necessarily related to any particular life stage. It could be felt because of a lack of deep meaningful connections with people or if those connections are not fulfilling your needs.
So what steps could you take to prevent or combat loneliness?
You do not always have control over your situation but you always have control over your reaction to it.
The first steps would be to reevaluate your life, do some introspection, and get involved. Learn to know yourself, your needs, your goals!
Dr. Melanie Greenberg, a licensed clinical psychologist, and life coach, proposes a few options:
- Evaluate your relationships:
Which people would you like to give more attention to? Concentrate on the people who are more likely to fulfill your needs.
- Put more effort into developing meaningful relationships:
Like any relationship, it takes effort and consistency to strengthen long-lasting bonds. Do not hesitate to reach out and take initiatives in organizing activities.
- Go out especially at times when you feel most alone:
Consider your options: join a gym for night or weekend classes, a meet-up group in your field of interest or an activity you would like to investigate as a potential new hobby. Consider also a professional group for networking and meeting people in the same line of work than you. Find out if the alumni association of your school has a chapter where you live.
A few additional tips from us:
- Is your issue with loneliness rooted in mental illness?
Depression, low self-esteem, social anxiety, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder are a few conditions that isolate individuals and could make relationships unstable and challenging. Be honest with yourself and get help…
- Consider joining a charity of your choice for a cause you feel passionate about: Helping others help you cope with your own life and challenges and is very beneficial to your health in general.
- Try to create a new goal which will give you purpose, something that would benefit you and create a better you:
Are you interested in losing weight, acquiring a new skill and mastering it? Do some soul searching and rediscover yourself. Many local universities are offering a selection of continuing education classes or classes for seniors either online or in classrooms.
- Consider evaluating your work-life balance:
Make sure you carve enough time for those activities that will give you opportunities to meet new people and properly nurture your existing relationships.
- Avoid comparing yourself to others:
Social media has been a very efficient tool at connecting people but has also given a false sense that everyone has a better life than yours. Remember that what you see is the image someone created of their life, the curb appeal, and their reality could be quite different.
- Be mindful of your mind and your inner voice:
Do you have negative thoughts that make your isolation or feeling of loneliness worse? First, observe and acknowledge them. Then, consider a more positive mental state and start retraining your brain to be more self-accepting and nurturing to you and also others. Consider meditation or other relaxation technics. Be patient with yourself. Research has shown that the brain is a lot more plastic than originally believed and can be retrained but requires extreme patience, a lot of practice, and time.
A positive attitude will always create good vibes attracting new potential relationships with people of similar minds.