Loneliness is perhaps one of the top causes of stress and depression; and it’s getting more common in the 21st century as a recent survey by the American Osteopathic Association reportedly found that as much as 72% experience loneliness with one third of them feel lonely at least once a week. It seems unbelievable as the world progresses to be more connected; people are feeling much lonelier than before.
Loneliness is both emotional yet subjective. You feel it while you’re alone within a space that contains nobody else; you could also be feeling lonely even when you are in a crowded room surrounded by people.
- 1 So What Exactly Causes Loneliness?
- 2 How to Overcome Loneliness
- 3 Infographic: Feeling lonely? Here are 7 ways to overcome it
So What Exactly Causes Loneliness?
Definition of Loneliness
Being lonely is defined as the feeling of isolation, or the lack of companionship and social circles.
Causes of Loneliness
From psychology point of view, the cause of loneliness is much more complicated than its definition. It is deeply rooted in the brain’s need to make sense of solitude, which in turn results in us creating multiple ‘answers’ to come to terms with loneliness. Why am I alone? Am I lacking in some ways that makes people stay away from me? Am I too mean? Should I keep my opinions to myself? These answers are dangerous, because it drives you further and further into your feeling of self-doubt, loneliness, and subsequently, depression.
How to Overcome Loneliness
The first step to overcoming loneliness is to make peace with the feeling. Acknowledge that it is perfectly normal to feel lonely and stop beating yourself up for feeling this way. If the feeling comes to you while you are alone at home, try going out and join some community activities. The empty space often magnifies while you’re feeling lonely, and further aggravates self-doubt; hence getting out there will instantly makes you feel much better.
Get Out of the House
Take a walk in the park, try making small talks to the ice-cream vendor or even joining the kids in their game of tag will lift up your mood much quicker than you think. Making the effort to interact with people surrounding your home will not only create new social circle, but also gives you a community to fall back into anytime when you’re feeling under the weather.
Adopt a Pet
Research by the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine has shown that petting an animal or playing with one can instantly increase the stress-reducing hormone (oxytocin). Besides providing the much needed companionship, you would also focus more of your attention on taking care of their wellbeing (cleaning, feeding) rather than wallowing in self-doubt and feeling lonely. Moreover, being outdoor with a pet could also increase your chances of talking to strangers as people normally perceive a person with an animal to be more approachable.
Learn Something New
Adult coloring, giant knitting and calligraphy are all the rage right now. Try your hand at different things and see where your interest lies. Getting a new hobby helps you to focus on mastering a new skill and who knows, you might start to enjoy spending time with yourself. Likewise, joining group classes like baking and pottery could open new doors and introduce you to a friend or two.
Most loneliness sprout from the feeling of inadequacy and volunteering helps to counter that. Helping those in need – whether they are homeless, sick, disabled or unfortunate gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment. And not to mention, the happiness stem from helping those in need is invaluable and incomparable to material fulfillment.
Reach Out to Your Family
Those closest to you are the ones that will always catch you when you fall, without judgment. Give a call to your parents, tell them in all honesty how you feel or just rant and cry your hearts out. Letting your feelings out is one of the best ways to find relief and doing it to your closest family members will not only keep your dignity intact, but also earn you a word of wisdom that could light your way out. When in doubt, call mom.
Do Something Nice for Yourself
Go for spa, get a massage, open that wine that you’ve been saving for special occasion – do something for sake of your own happiness and enjoy it. People who feel lonely often underappreciated themselves. Thank yourself for making through the day by sitting down for a hearty dinner, or splurge on steak and lobster, feel good by treating yourself better.
Other than all these method of distracting yourself from feeling lonely, the bottom line to overcoming loneliness is to make peace with the feeling. It’s okay to feel lonely from time to time, and once you’ve grown used to it, you might even find solace in solitude.
Infographic: Feeling lonely? Here are 7 ways to overcome it
Please include attribution to https://lobaks.com with this graphic.