How to cope with being isolated and lonely
Feeling lonely in our lives is more common that we sometimes acknowledge. At some point or other we are not going to feel good about being on our own. Indeed, it is likely over the past fifteen months, the loneliness has been ever present as we have been forced to isolate from your social groups.
A sense of loneliness is a feeling we get when we cannot connect with others. For some, this even happens when we are surrounded with people. It is such a frustrating feeling, as you go through a mental tornado trying to work out why you feel so isolated.
The irony is you are not alone in feeling lonely.
While tackling these emotions can feel overwhelming and scary, there are things you can do and help you can seek to rise out of the darkness.
What are the causes of loneliness?
Sometimes it is best to begin by understanding what triggers feelings of loneliness. Some of the leading causes include:
Unfulfilling relationships. Being in a relationship, whether it is a marriage or even a friendship, which is not mentally and physically fulfilling is a significant cause of isolation.
Relocation. When we are forced to be separated from those we know and rely on for emotional support, we can feel lonely. This sense of separation might equally be a consequence of death, where the separation is more permanent.
Social exclusion. When we feel different or separate from a community, where it is a school or a team in a workplace, we will be isolated no matter the number of people around us. This is one of the leading identified causes of loneliness.
Who is most likely to be lonely?
Certain groups are more impacted than others. Older people, for instance, are highly likely to feel lonely. Once retired, people tend to lose connection with groups of people who helped them feel connected. The most significant reason these people feel isolated is due to ill health, as there is a barrier to their ability to get out and socialise.
Young people are not immune. 16 – 24 years olds are increasingly lonely – ironically – because social media makes face to face meet ups less common. This age group are more likely to say they often or always feel lonely than the older age groups.
Finally, while women report feeling lonely more than men, it is thought more men are lonely because they do not sustain the same friendship groups.
What are the health risks of loneliness?
Our minds and our bodies are intrinsically linked. Therefore, when there is something out of balance in our psychology it can manifest in physical ailments. For instance, lonely people are at greater risk of high blood pressure, of strokes and developing heart disease, of dementia and general cognitive decline.
Time to combat loneliness!
Maybe the knowledge that loneliness is more common than you thought has helped a little. Often to know that such a feeling comes and goes for a lot of people is comforting. If not, then you might want to talk to someone and be heard. Having someone listen to you, really listening, will help you feel connected to another human being.
If you do not have friends and family who you feel will connect with you, try calling the Samaritans and Age UK, who encourage you to call at any time. As part of their mental health campaign, ITV compiled a list of resources to help you too.
A long-term solution to loneliness is making new connections. When you have strong relationships, you feel that you have someone by your side. You can start by joining groups or clubs – maybe a running or book club would be a good starting point. It might be that you sign up for a class to learn a new hobby, which will spark interest and curiosity in your again. If you could mix these new relationships and new hobbies with being out in nature, you will feel even better. Nature is a natural antidote to the stresses and strains of life – and give us the energy to meet new people.
If all else fails, and your sense of loneliness is profound, you may wish to consider therapy. It may be that your feelings are rooted in rejection from an earlier time or an issue from childhood that prevents you fully connecting.
If you feel tired all the time and struggle to find pleasure in simple things, then you are likely seeing the signs of loneliness and isolation. It might be even simpler, as you find yourself constantly waiting to hear the phone ring. If you do begin to notice these things in yourself or someone close to you, it might mean you need to make an effort to halt these feelings and move forward positively.
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