Joss Whedon said, “Loneliness is about the scariest thing out there.” Many people feel lonely even in a crowd of people. Loneliness is complex emotion. It’s a sadness when you feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to, and it often is prompted by stressful situations. According to the National Institute on Aging, social isolation and loneliness lead to health risks for older people. Human beings are meant to be social creatures, regardless of whether they’re extroverted or introverted.
Loneliness has been linked to many diseases, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. Interestingly, when you feel lonely, the initial reaction is to withdraw into yourself, compounding the problem. You may feel like a loser or an outcast. One thing to remember when facing loneliness is that it is an emotion, not a fact, and emotions are fleeting. You don’t have to believe them. Instead, listen to facts. You probably have more friends and family members who love you than you realize.
How Do You Deal With Loneliness?
When you are sad and feel alone, one of the healthiest things to do is reach out to those who love you. That is easier said than done, but it is important to cultivate relationships with others to have support when you need it. Researchers found that loneliness is often ignored or trivialized, but it’s a serious issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Don’t disregard your feelings of loneliness but make a plan to deal with them. Accept that you may feel a certain way, but know that you don’t have to stay mired in sadness.
Reach Out to Others
One way to deal with your loneliness is to focus on others. Smile at someone as you walk into work. Make a choice to offer kindness to strangers. Loneliness is about not having relationships. When you choose to be kind to people or animals, it can create an instant connection. You may feel better when you don’t focus inward on your problems. That doesn’t mean that you ignore your problems, just that you choose to rise above your own feelings and care about others. As you show people that the world isn’t a lonely place, you learn the same thing.
Avoid Social Media
It might seem as if social media would help alleviate the feelings of loneliness, but it hasn’t. The people who use social media as their only connections are usually some of the loneliest people. Social media can often cause anxiety and stress because you’re only seeing one single snapshot of a person’s life. You may feel as if you need to work harder to be more like your friend. You’re only getting a status update instead of a real conversation. A heart-to-heart talk with a friend is a real investment in combatting loneliness.
You may have to work hard to change your thoughts when you feel lonely. Have affirmations that remind you that you aren’t alone. This Thomas Merton quote may give you something to remember. “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.”
To fight loneliness, reach out and cultivate friendships. Depression and anxiety may tell you not to talk to your friends and family, but ignore those voices. It is work to take an interest in others when you don’t feel like it, but much like exercise, the results are worth the investment.
Keep Looking for Relationships
Be persistent when you’re trying to find relationships. Don’t give up and resign yourself to social isolation. Keep looking for friends. Take an interest in others. Be yourself. You’ll meet the right people if you put in the effort. When you find a friend, both of you are cured of your loneliness.