The trend of loneliness is going up every year. Rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. More and more people are asking how to feel less lonely?
Maybe someone wants things to be like they are now. Get up, go to work, spend most of the time at work in a little office. Go home, spend your paycheck for food and things that you maybe never gonna use. Pay the bills and stay alone.
No time for family, friends, relationship. Fewer people are getting married and having children. Children are sitting at home and playing games on a computer or smartphone.
People are spending so much time on social media and they feel like they have thousands and thousands of friends (not everyone on social media is your real friend).
And the cost of all this isolation and disconnection is loneliness. It became so big problem that today’s loneliness has the same negative impact on humans health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
And this negative impact of loneliness will only increase in the next decade. So many people are feeling alone.
What to do about that? What steps to take to feel less lonely?
We are covering in this article two major categories of the topic loneliness:
1.Definition and causes of loneliness
2.How to feel less lonely
Definition of loneliness
Feeling lonely is so personal and can’t be defined exactly because it is different for different people. Loneliness is a discrepancy between what someone has in their lives and what they want to experience.
According to many experts, loneliness is not necessarily about being alone. If you feel alone and isolated, it is how loneliness plays into your state of mind.
When people are lonely, they feel empty and unwanted. They crave human contact, but in their minds, it is so difficult to accomplish that.
Causes for feeling lonely can be different, both physical, or psychological. Major causes are moving away from the family, divorce, death of someone close, or staying home due to financial problems.
People with low self-confidence are also lonely because they believe that they are unworthy of the attention of other people. Low-self confidence or self-esteem can lead to isolation and chronic illness too.
“Loneliness is not a lack of company, loneliness is a lack of purpose”.- Guillermo Maldonado
How to feel less lonely
Get to the root of the problem
People need to be a part of the community to survive. When you feel lonely, feeling that something is missing or that you are alone – it is your body telling you to do something about it.
These are the words from Ami Rokach a clinical psychologist who has been researching and teaching about loneliness for the past 35 years. Rokach also says, asking yourself what causes these feelings of loneliness is one of the first steps toward fixing the issue.
Causes can be different, it can be moving away from your family or friends, recent divorce, losing someone close in family.
It (loneliness) is like an alarm bell that signals something is missing. So, get to the root of the problem, what is it that makes you feel lonely.
Ask yourself what loneliness looks like for you
You can have many friends or relationships but still, feel lonely. Loneliness looks different for people at different times in their lives.
Most people feel lonely from time to time, especially today when social media are #1 place where people meet and chat. It is important to make a distinction between situational loneliness and chronic loneliness.
If you are feeling lonely frequently more than usual, ask yourself a question what changed in your life that leads to feeling disconnected? Are you intentionally or accidentally isolating yourself?
It doesn’t matter if our loneliness is chronic or brief, questions like this can help to deal with it.
Be with people who make you feel good
Some of the most lonely people in the world are surrounded by others. Or if we simplify this, many people are in a relationship but feel so lonely.
It is so scary to be in a room full of people and still feel lonely. Or be in a relationship where the other person doesn’t see you. If you are constantly putting other needs before your own, then how do you expect to not feel lonely?
“People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world”. – Kim Culbertson
Take care of yourself no one will do that for you. If you are putting others first you will lose your self-esteem and things will get worst. So take action, think about what you are doing.
Change your surrounding (Volunteer)
When your negative thoughts are rumbling through your mind, you are nervous and start feeling alone, you are too close to your problems.
You can’t see the solution because you don’t have a clear head, can’t see far because they (problems) are so close to you. Rumination is one of the fastest ways to spiral into our minds and experience pain.
One of the first things (non-medical) that people suffering from depression get is to volunteer.
Find a way to get out in your community and serve as best as you can. Find someone that needs help, there are so many places today where you can help. Whether it be old folks home, animal shelter, or any other place. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding an organization near you that needs help.
If you don’t have an idea where to start, try with MeetUp a social-driven community board that may clue you into charity work in your area.
Find a way to get out into your community and volunteer in a way that utilizes a gift that you have to give.
But be sure whatever you do it must mean something personally to you. After you spend some time there you will change the way you see things and be very happy that you’ve helped someone.
Recognize the kindness in others. Finding a group of friends to hang out (that can be any person that you can help) will cut off the cycle of loneliness.
And the best thing from all of this is that you can meet your new best friend or find a new passion in the process.
Find your “Me-Time”
If you are too busy, have so many things to finish at work, stressed about your income, slow down it is time for a little break.
By doing these things for a longer period you will find your self disconnected from other people. Overwhelmed from overworking and resolving problems. What you should do? Stop and relax.
Often when we feel alone we become unmotivated to take care of ourselves.
By relaxing we mean to take more time for yourself, if you need an idea for this, read this article How To Make More Time For Yourself.
Organize a dinner for friends and people you want to see more
You are not the only one that feels lonely. There are plenty of people that are feeling the same and they are waiting for an opportunity to hang out with people just like you.
Maybe you are like other people, come from work, eat dinner and after that scroll through social media and wait for something to happen.
Wait for someone to message you or call you to go somewhere. Well what if you are on the opposite side, you are the one who messages or calls someone to do something.
Experts say that it is not the quantity of social interaction that combats loneliness, but it is the quality
If you don’t have many friends invite some of your co-workers or cousins to dinner or to watch a game or something else interesting. You will be surprised how many people want to hang out but there always must be an initiator.
Be that initiator. Start doing something different except for waiting for things to happen by themself. Be that fire-starter. Organize the dinner. As a one-off thing, or ideally, as an ongoing, weekly event.
Place your hand over your heart
Physical contact has always been important for us and that is what makes us feel safe, secured, and cared for. Lack of physical connection can be the root of loneliness.
You don’t need to have a partner, lover, or a friend to make that physical connection.
Placing your hand over the heart can be as effective. Dr. Kristin Neff an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin says:
“Supportive’ touch works with the person’s parasympathetic nervous system, which helps calm us down and reduces cortisol and releases oxytocin.”
“Our bodies register the care we give ourselves in a similar way that it registers the care we get from others through physical touch”.
She also ads that every person is different. Someone wants to hold their hand on the face or the stomach. Some love hugging themselves. Try it, this is the chance to figure out how to be your buddy.
Final thoughts: No one wants to be lonely. This is a bad feeling. It keeps you down and empty. But nothing will change if you are not ready to make some changes in your life.
Trust in yourself. No one is born to be alone in this world. Try some of these tips mentioned above and things will start to change.