In our modern society, many people feel lonely. If you feel the same way, you are not alone! The good news is that it is possible to understand and change the situation. We’ve summarized 7 useful tips to help you feel better and avoid chronic loneliness.
The first step: Do not underestimate your loneliness!
Since the beginning of 2018, the UK has had a minister for loneliness. You might laugh and ask: Why is it necessary to tackle loneliness on a political level? A number of studies have shown that loneliness can have a serious impact on our health and wellbeing – so it’s definitely an issue that needs policy attention too.
But what does loneliness actually mean? Even if you are surrounded by many friends and family members, you can still feel lonely. Loneliness is not necessarily the same as being alone! Most of us are in contact with other people every day and are not literally alone – but that does not exclude loneliness. This subjective feeling usually occurs when the social situations in our lives do not match the interactions we expect or desire.
Loneliness makes us sad. In the long run, it can also cause us to not sleep well, change our blood pressure, and suffer from depression. Loneliness is therefore a serious problem for the healthcare system. The younger population between the ages of 18-37 is particularly affected. In several surveys conducted in the U.S., nearly half of people responded that they feel lonely sometimes or most of the time.
Despite the negative consequences of loneliness mentioned above, this does not mean that being lonely from time to time will cause you to become depressed immediately or shorten your life expectancy. But if you feel very lonely and feel that your daily life and well-being are very limited as a result, it’s a good idea to find out why and do something about it.
Possible reasons for loneliness
Of course, we are all individuals with different life experiences and may have our own personal reasons for feeling lonely. And they can be hard to identify. Still, there are some particularly common reasons that can cause loneliness:
- New situations due to life changes: Attending a new university or starting a new job, moving to another city or country, death of a friend or relative, relationships breaking up … All of these things can present us with a new challenge that we are not comfortable with at first. This can make us feel lonely because our daily habits and social contacts change.
- The inactivity trapWhen we are sad, we are not in the mood to meet other people and prefer to stay isolated from the rest of the world. This can make us feel lonely, which then increases our depressive symptoms. A tricky vicious circle that we should break out of if possible!
- Quality over quantity! It’s not necessarily the number of people around you that matters, what’s more important is the quality of those relationships. Maybe you have 500 friends on Facebook, but no one to talk to about your personal problems or to support you during difficult times. That lack of quality relationships can make you feel lonely, even when you’re surrounded by people.
- Feeling differentThe subjective thought of being very different from others in your social circle can contribute to feelings of loneliness. For example, if someone doesn’t like going to parties, but everyone around them loves parties, you quickly feel more distant.
Tips to help you feel less lonely:
1. Find people who are in the same situation: There are many activities you can participate in to meet people who feel the same way you do. There are some new trends that can help with this. For example, there are groups where you can meet others to cook and eat together – this is also a great way to make new friends. Reading blog articles, from people who have experience with depression or loneliness, can also help you better understand your own feelings.
2. Mingle with people! Go outside – for a walk, to a coffee shop, take your lunch and a book to the park, and read while people talk or birds sing around you. Just being in an environment filled with the sounds of other living things can make you feel less alone.
3. Use social media to your advantage: You can help us stay in touch with people we care about but don’t necessarily live in the same place. Not only can we stay in touch with our loved ones online, but we can meet new people as well. Like when it seems too difficult to go outside. But be careful – this doesn’t mean we should spend all day online. Be sure to maintain a healthy balance and conscious use of the Internet.
4. Do you think ..? Meditation, religiosity or spirituality can help to deal with difficult situations.
5. Get your body moving – move and get active! Sports and exercise can help with depression. It also gives you the opportunity to meet other people who share your (new) hobby.
6. Think about your current living situation: Live alone? Would it be a good idea to move in with friends, new roommates, or family members?
7. Find someone with whom you can talk openly and honestly about your feelings. Someone you can trust. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family, you can think about going to psychotherapy. Seeking help is definitely not taboo!
Remember, you’re not the only person who feels lonely!
There are many people who feel the same way, and you don’t have to deal with sad and lonely feelings alone. Try to find the individual causes of your loneliness and use the tips from this article. We all know best what is good for ourselves. But sometimes we need to dare to step out of our comfort zone, change our lifestyle and ask others for support – always with the goal of feeling better afterwards.