Do you often find yourself feeling lonely? I don’t know about you, but there have been more than a few times in my life where I just felt so alone. And what makes matters worse, oftentimes I have felt that I had no one to go to when I felt those bouts of loneliness. Don’t you wish there were some secret tips you could apply for dealing with or better yet, eliminate loneliness?
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In this blog, Made You Smile Back will share 7 effective secret techniques for dealing with loneliness and get back to feeling happy. Every human being goes through periods feeling lonely. But if these feelings continue unchecked, then you can easily find yourself suffering from a mental health disease which is very real. And can even shorten your life!
We shall discuss exactly what loneliness is and how it is caused, explain the difference between being alone vs loneliness, the most common types of loneliness and present strategies in coping and finding your way ‘out of the darkness’.
FACT: Loneliness is a Worldwide Epidemic Currently Affecting 1 in Every 3 Adults
Let’s start the discussion with this very informative YouTube video by Jay Shetty, a former monk turned motivational speaker who shares his wisdom in providing clarity with mental health issues with positivity.
Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.
Douglas Nemecek, MD, chief medical officer for behavioral health, Cigna
What Exactly Is Loneliness?
According to verywellmind.com, loneliness is described as a state of solitude or being alone. But actually, loneliness is actually a state of mind. Loneliness causes people to feel empty, alone, and unwanted. People who are lonely often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it more difficult to form connections with other people.
On the other hand, loneliness is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, if you feel alone and isolated, then that is how loneliness plays into your state of mind. But wait, some people are known to be ‘loners’. How does this play out?
The Difference between being a ‘Loner’ vs Being ‘Lonely’
One thing I’ve learned is the difference between feeling alone and feeling lonely – and how you can feel lonely in a crowd full of people, but quite peaceful and content when alone.
Everyone’s experience with loneliness is different from one another. It’s a personal thing. We must recognize that loneliness is not often the same thing and quite differently as being alone.
In fact, many people freely choose to be alone and live quite contently and happy. Others may find this to be rather lonely. But even ‘loners’ can easily find themselves struggling with loneliness as well.
Are You a Lonely Socialite?
Are you a Social Loner? How many of you would be labeled easily from your friends who ‘think they know you’ and would argue that you’re one of the most social people out there! Often you’re considered the life of the party, right? Sound familiar? Let’s go one step further shall we?
Get your Freebie
We can be totally surrounded by people — regardless whether they are family, friends or strangers and we still feel so very much alone. Is it any wonder that even well-known celebrities and personalities have suffered all their life dealing with this condition?
Yes, it is with much sadness that the world lost the most comedic and heart-warming soul — Robin Williams. He recently passed three years August 11, 2015. He suffered from major depression which was the result of isolation and loneliness, especially in his later years. The problem with being a ‘social loner’ is the fact that it’s even more difficult, in the eyes of these special people, to reach out and seek help…. much-needed help.
In our next sections, Made You Smile Back shall go into more detail on the symptoms, causes and effects of loneliness. It is SO IMPORTANT that you fully understand the depth and scope of this real, if not potentially dangerous disease.
Symptoms of Loneliness
Are you feeling disconnected? As mentioned earlier, symptoms of loneliness may differ from person to person but may take on one or more of the symptoms as featured on Psych2Go. Psych2Go is a popular YouTube channel that currently has over 2.4 million subscribers and promotes mental health advocacy. They list these 7 symptoms of loneliness:
Your insomnia is an ongoing problem. According to research published in the journal Sleep, loneliness can wreck your chances of getting a restful night’s sleep. Researchers measured the sleep cycles of 95 people in South Dakota, comparing them with the participant’s self-reported loneliness scores. The results? The lonelier the participant, the higher the levels of fragmented sleep.
Your anxiety worsens. Do you already suffer from anxiety? When you are lonely, anxiety increases your cortisol based on your stress levels In turn, you will also start have more feelings of hopelessness.
You live on your couch or bed. Loneliness tends to make us become even more isolated by feeling ‘locked in’ to our home or one favorite spot. You may also find yourself lounging all day in your pj’s or even begin binge-watching your favorite NetFlix shows.
You have difficulty with social situations. Research shows that people who are lonely have a harder time in understanding and adapting social skills. Thus, they become isolated and even more alone.
You choose materials over people. According to research published in the Journal of Consumer Research, some people go gaga over inanimate objects because they’re lonely. The researchers call this “material possession love,” and you’ve probably witnessed it a number of times: your neighbor who calls his car “baby,” or your great aunt who prides herself on her doll collection. Because these folks suffer from a lack of social connections, they start doting on their things. Obviously, materials items cannot buy you happiness versus having real-life experiences interacting and connecting with friends and family.
You’re gaining weight. When you’re lonely, you find yourself turning to ‘comfort food’ or eating out of boredom. If you don’t catch yourself early on to break the cycle, the calories add up…
Alone time doesn’t feel fun anymore! If you start to feel more irritable than usual or you have no one to talk to who can relate to you like in the past, you may realize that alone time is no longer enjoyable as it once was, especially if you consider yourself a loner by choice.
Once you recognize that you may have one or more of these symptoms, you need to reach out to your primary care physician and determine what is causing you this distress.
What Causes Loneliness Anyway?!?
Loneliness is a real and overwhelming problem that people struggle with every day. We know what the symptoms are, but what causes loneliness in the first place? Let’s find out.
A new move or relocation to a new city or country. As a result, you suddenly have no friends to turn to when needed.
Becoming a newlywed or Mom and suddenly your old ‘single friends’ seem to have abandoned you.
You’ve become newly divorced or separated and find yourself having to make new friends becoming even more isolated.
Unlike becoming a new mother, a stay-at-home mom can feel that her career-driven friends have all by vanished from her inner circle.
People who suffer from anxiety, self-esteem issues or weight-related issues all can contribute to loneliness as well.
If you’re suffering from current mental health issues or battling chronic illnesses, these conditions can definitely trigger loneliness and isolation from others who ‘simply don’t understand’ what you’re going thru.
Perhaps your very best friend moved a long distance away or you recently endured a relationship break-up. You find yourself having too much time on your hands and thus loneliness creeps in.
Empathetically and understandingly, we would be amiss if we didn’t include the sorrowful bereavement of losing a loved one. In fact, research from Dr. R.S. Weiss, Phd, there is a strong preponderance of evidence to support that one can actually ‘die’ of a broken heart and loneliness as a result of the death of your spouse.It’s important to have close family friends be nearby so you can reach out to them as needed and as for as long as you need to!
The Shocking Effects of Loneliness and How Our Body Reacts
Loneliness and isolation can have far-reaching effects on our health, whether they occur together or independently of each other. Let’s take a closer look at both the physical and mental effects that loneliness causes.
So enough already! Do you not agree how important it is that we learn to take care of ourselves and treat loneliness as a real health concern? We need to treat it as it truly is… a bonafide medical disease. Made You Smile Back encourages each and everyone reading this blog to learn these 7 secret tips to cope and help eliminate loneliness.
Acceptance that you are lonely. Dissect your feelings about it – change the mindset from having no friends to making friends.
Make a plan to deal with the loneliness – go where people are – like a coffee shop or the mall or the library – chat in lines – engage in small talk.
Get outside – an immediate mood booster – take a daily walk in a scenic park. Nature is so healing and you will feel an instant connection.
Start an exercise program – a dance class – the combo of music and movement will release the feel-good hormones – leaving you feeling more positive and energetic. Plus this is a great way to meet new friends!
Journal, journal, journal. I can’t emphasize the importance of pouring it all out there in a journal. Start doing daily and over time, you will progress from ‘venting’ to determining meaningful and effective solutions.
Create a support network of people to call or text or do facetime when feeling down.
Seek out counseling, therapy and/or make an immediate appointment with your primary care provider.
The big ‘takeaway’ from this article is… Remember, loneliness is temporary. Even if you’re feeling lonely now, that doesn’t mean you’ll always feel lonely or you’ll never find a community that nourishes you.
“You are the architect of your future. You get to go out and make new and wise choices.”
Everyone of us has something to offer in all the connections and relationshps we make.
Join in the Conversation Below and Share your Tips on how you deal with Loneliness!
If you’re in immediate crisis:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, compassionate support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can call them at 1-800-273-8255 or get in touch with them through online chat.
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