You’re Not Alone in Feeling Lonely
Experiencing loneliness has adverse effects on nearly every facet of our being. Our mental health, emotional health, and physical well being all suffer when we experience feelings of loneliness. We feel isolated and hopeless, even though being lonely is something that almost all of us experience at some point in our lives. It’s a feeling we all experience, but apart from each other.
Loneliness affects everyone. We all struggle with it because it is such an isolating and hopeless feeling. We feel drained by it and sometimes don’t have the positive outlook or energy needed to overcome loneliness. We tend to push away our friends and family members who would like to help us.
In this article, we will discuss why humans need each other and how to combat loneliness. We’ll explain what you can do when you’re feeling lonely and what can be done to make you feel more hopeful for a better, less isolated life.
Humans Need Interaction
Humans need to be around each other to keep from feeling lonely and depressed. We need social interaction to feel validated. Developing and maintaining relationships are crucial to building and determining our self-worth and mental health. We need to experience love on some level, and we need to feel supported. Without these things, we feel lonely and lost.
A Pandemic of Loneliness
Scientists have predicted that we are not only in a viral pandemic but a loneliness pandemic. People are more isolated than ever due to health concerns associated with the current pandemic, and it is hitting every demographic. The elderly and young people are the hardest hit by loneliness.
The elderly, who struggle with feeling forgotten about by family, are now having to cope with the fact that a family member cannot visit them for fear of exposing them to Covid-19. Young people, who were used to regularly interacting with society until the pandemic, suddenly found themselves alone for large stretches of time.
Human beings are social creatures. We were not meant to be solitary. We build communities so that we can live near each other. We create groups and clubs so that we can congregate based upon similar interests.
We set up playdates for our children so that they can learn to be social. We have birthday parties and holiday gatherings so that we can bond with each other. It is essential that humans interact with one another.
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Why We Need Each Other
To Feel Worthy
Our sense of self and self esteem is largely dependent upon what others think of us. We think more highly of ourselves when we are respected, loved, and supported by our families, partners, and peers. When we lose that circle of people and the camaraderie of others, our self-worth suffers for it.
When we experience feelings of loneliness, we decide that we must not matter much or be very important if no one wants to be around us. We stop prioritizing our health and wellness because we don’t feel cared about by others. It’s hard to care much about yourself when you feel like no one else cares about you.
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For Our Mental Health
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Loneliness can lead to mental health issues that can worsen over time. When we feel alone, some of us start to obsess about the negative things about us that we think may have put us in a state of isolation.
We must not be smart, attractive, interesting, or worth enough if no one is around to spend time with us. We convince ourselves of these things, and we have spiraled into a depressed state before we know it. We stop taking care of ourselves, our sleep and diet are affected, and we may start to self-medicate with alcohol or drug abuse.
We try to make ourselves feel better by numbing the pain we feel rather than fixing the actual problem. Mental health issues often lead to health issues of the body. Being around people keeps us mentally and emotionally healthy. We need interaction to stay balanced and well.
For Love and Support
Everybody wants to be loved. Everybody deserves to be loved. Love makes us feel good. It makes us feel wanted and needed. It gives us something to look forward to. When we feel loved, we want to be at our best so that we will keep receiving love.
We have something to look forward to and hope for and smile about when we are loved. We feel love when we interact with each other and form relationships.
The people who care about us and love us usually support us in our times of need. They support our dreams and our passions. They are there to cheer us on when we try something new or take on a challenge. They are there to lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on when we are upset, or something goes wrong. Having to deal with these situations alone can be traumatic.
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How to Combat Loneliness and Feel Less Alone
Fighting loneliness is not easy to do. It takes motivation and determination, and most lonely people lack both of those traits due to the isolating hold loneliness puts them in.
Starting small is often the best option when you decide that enough is enough and you want to climb out of the darkness that loneliness has thrown you into.
Learn to Like Yourself
It seems silly, but being your own best friend is a great way to start to pull yourself out of the depression that loneliness causes. Get to know yourself. Then invest time in yourself. Learn to enjoy your own company and realize that you are appealing and have a lot to offer to the world.
The following are ways you can come to enjoy your own company:
- Keep a journal of your feelings and goals
- Learn a new skill
- Try new hobbies
- Rediscover old hobbies
- Read or do puzzles
- Learn to play a musical instrument
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Making new friends can be tough, especially for adults. We aren’t often presented with opportunities to feel connected to others. Try talking to people you see regularly but don’t usually interact with. Someone at work, another parent at the park, a neighbor or someone at the library.
Something as simple as exchanging pleasantries can start a conversation and make you feel connections to the outside world. Social anxiety can be hard to overcome when you feel lonely, but even a smile and a wave or nod can open the door to a new friendship.
If meeting people face to face seems daunting, you can also try online. Joining support groups, finding friends on social media, chat rooms, and online courses all offer ways to interact and get to know other people from all over the world.
You don’t have to meet face to face to form a friendship. Just be careful when meeting new people online that you don’t share personal information or open yourself up to identity theft.
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Join a Club or Group
Communities usually have many different groups or clubs that you can join, depending on your interests. These clubs or organizations often do fundraisers and host community events.
Participating in these sorts of things can lead to the introduction of even more new people, all of whom can be potential friends. Even if you don’t make friends right away, you are getting out and around people, which is a vital step in combating loneliness.
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What are you passionate about? If there is a cause near and dear to your heart? If so, find out how to volunteer. Most causes, charities, and organizations are in desperate need of volunteers to help raise money, raise awareness and to lend a helping hand.
Participating in these things will give you a chance to surround yourself with like-minded people who are also passionate about the things you care about.
Lasting friendships can be formed, and good is being done on a larger scale all at once. Volunteering also makes you feel great because you are extending your services to those in need.
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Get a Pet
Animals make us feel less lonely. Many people have emotional support animals for this reason. If you find yourself alone and in need of companionship, consider adopting a pet from an animal shelter. Dogs are attuned to the feelings of humans and actively try to make their owners happy.
Cats are great because they don’t require much interaction but still like to have affection from time to time. Something as simple as a pet fish can help to boost our spirits. We feel better about ourselves and have an easier time breaking out of a depressed state when we are needed and responsible for a pet.
If you aren’t ready to commit to owning your own pet yet, you could also become a dog walker and care for other people’s pets for a short period of time each week. This can still give you the benefits of bonding with an animal without the full time commitment. Dog walkers usually get to control how much they work and many dogs they are willing to walk at a time.
When It’s Time to Seek Help
Counseling and Therapy
Sometimes it can feel like too much to get out in the world and try to make contact and connections with new people. Sometimes the lethargy that loneliness causes keeps us from making the first move to fight off our isolating feelings. In these cases, it may be best to seek professional help from a licensed therapist or compassionate counselor and take advantage of the resources they can offer.
Maybe you’re lonely because you’re at odds in a relationship. Marriage or relationship counseling is one great resource that should be taken advantage of when you need it. Perhaps you’ve recently lost someone, and you’re having trouble trying to cope and move forward in life.
The death of a partner can literally put you in a state of isolation. Grief counselors can help you realize that your life is still worth living and that human connection is now more important than ever. Maybe you don’t know why you feel lonely, and you need direction.
Counselors and mental health professionals can help you get to the root of the problem, diagnose things like depression, social anxiety, and bipolar disorder, and prescribe practical coping strategies to help us get the treatment we need.
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Don’t Give Up Hope
When we feel lonely, it is very easy to just give up. We don’t feel like there is much point in doing anything or in trying to be happy again. We can spiral out of control in our own sadness, and when we hit rock bottom, it’s easy to stay there rather than making the hard climb back to happiness.
It is important to understand that working towards being happy is worth it because you are worth it. You have value, and you matter. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and with some self-care, reflection, and hard work, you can get to that state of happiness you feel like you’re missing out on.