Loneliness, the digital hope (1)

Loneliness : How to cope with loneliness

Loneliness can be really hard for anyone that’s experiencing it. No matter who we are, what we own or what we have achieved, we often need someone.

Did you know? That loneliness can lead to an early death and make it more likely that we get Alzheimer’s disease?

Here’s a stat : More than 60% of people in the UK between the ages of 18-34 feel lonely. 3 out of 5 people identify as being lonely on a regular basis

Why do we feel so much disconnection when we are in the most connected time in the history of mankind with social media and the internet?


SUMMARY :

Quick Actionable tips to deal with loneliness :

  • Journal/Voice note to yourself to understand your feelings and emotions
  • Learn what you love to do by yourself : It’s important that we feel comfortable and happy by ourselves
  • Understand the world isn’t against you : Stop pushing people away and open your doors to people. Strengthen Existing relationships you have with people
  • Adopt a pet! Pets help alot with loneliness
  • Practice Gratitude : To appreciate what you have in your life. Gratitude helps change our perspective and helps us see the good things around us.
  • Take a break from social media

Things to know about loneliness :

  • Being alone is not loneliness: There are millions of people in this world who are filled with bliss and happiness being alone in their life. They enjoy their own company, they know what they like to do by themselves and don’t feel bad being by themseves
  •  Social skills and likability doesn’t help with loneliness: Many think that there is something wrong with themselves and that’s why they are alone. It’s not the truth at all. People who are surrounded by friends and family often feel lonely. Celebrities often feel loneliness! 
  • Loneliness is because of evolution : Loneliness is just like hunger. Hunger makes sure we get our physical needs and loneliness makes sure that we get our social needs. Humans evolved to be social beings because being alone meant death when humans were in their primitive stages. This is biology!
  • Modern Society is to be blamed :  As we all become adults, we get so consumed with work, marriage and financial responsibilities that we don’t have enough time to connect with friends and live a communal life. Even if we make friends, the connections wouldn’t be very strong enough for us to call them our close friends.

How Chronic Loneliness affects us :

  • We age Quicker 
  • It makes cancer deadlier
  • Causes depression
  • Increased stress levels
  • Social anxiety : The feeling of not being able to fit in, can really scale up and emerge as social anxiety!
  • Social bullying : When we can’t make connections and stay alone often, we are labeled as weird and people steer clear of us which can cause more loneliness.
  • Negative Self Image : All this pressure builds up and we start hating ourselves for not fitting in which causes a severe negative Self image!
  • Alzheimer’s advance faster
  • Immune System becomes weaker
  • Defense Mechanisms | Trust issues : When we get chronic loneliness, we start building defense mechanisms to avoid being rejected or hurt socially. So we start pushing people away or misunderstand them often and makes us distrustful of others

As a researcher, Olivia Remes who studied loneliness for so long comes with some solutions for getting rid of loneliness.

First we need to recognize the many problems that people face because of loneliness :

Facts :

  • Loneliness is as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day
  • It is twice as deadly as obesity

Things to do to understand and deal with loneliness  :

Changing the Perspective: 

We should rephrase loneliness and phrase it as solitude!  

Loneliness means that we are seeking company and are not getting any company. Whereas, solitude means we become good company.

I will repeat this once again ” You need to become the company that you want”

Solitude is enjoying being alone!

It’s always about the way we look at things! Being alone doesn’t have to be negative at all.

Being alone is not a weakness at all. But society has trained us to perceive it that way. That we are alone because we are lacking something. 

But Solitude can be really powerful. 

It’s only when we are alone, we can truly get to know ourselves and our potential!

  • Advice From jay Shetty

Understand yourself and your emotions

It’s funny that we get so mad and sad that other people don’t understand us. This stems from us not understanding ourselves.

  • Get out of your head by journaling : 

When we are alone, we get stuck in our heads with overwhelming thoughts and emotions. This is what makes people feel bad because they are probably not very used to be confronted by their feelings and thoughts so much

When this happens journaling helps us process and understand these feelings

  • Not a writer? Voice Note it to yourself :

If you are not into writing, open your messaging app or your voice recorder app and voice note it to yourself.

Solitude’s biggest power is that it helps you understand yourself.

Trust me being an international student alone in another country having to spend countless hours every day being alone, I can vouch for this point. 

It can be painful at first. You might not want to listen to all these horrible feelings coming down at you. But it’s actually therapy. Listen to them. Be uncomfortable. Journal and understand yourself. It’s time to heal. 

Listen to yourself:

When someone else has a problem, we know what they need to do to get over it. When our friends rant out their issues, we do give them a way out of their problems. 

We all have that wise voice inside of us that has the power to guide us at any situation!

Learn what we love to do solo : 

Being alone and in solitude is an opportunity to get to know this part of yourselves. What do you love to do by yourself? 

You might say ” Why does it matter? Why do I need to know this? I don’t like being alone”

But if you don’t know and understand yourselves, you won’t really live a purposeful life that reflects your internal values. Plus this is an experience you need to know yourself better!

  • Maybe you like to read?
  • Go on a run or hit the gym
  • Maybe you love art? Or comedy!
  • Playing an instrument maybe?
  • Learning something new?
  • Dancing or meditation?

What can you do on your own that brings you joy? Remember, no one can take this away from you!

Change the way you perceive this world: 

“Happiness and Suffering are all in our mind”. This implies the cause of happiness and suffering is also in the mind

Realize you are not the problem. If something doesn’t workout, change the way you approach the problem. Don’t blame yourself which often leads to loneliness.

Positive self image and self love can really make a difference in the way you deal with people. A happy soul attracts many people!

Stop Pushing People Away :

When we have chronic depression, we often start pushing people away from our lives to protect ourselves. We become distrustful and we stop accepting invitations from others! 

You need to realize that “The world is not against us”.

We do not have to keep our walls up. Realize that not everyone has bad intentions. Start opening your world to a few close friends first. Then slowly expand. You are not the problem. Everyone feels lonely and it’s part of our biology.

Just like how hunger goes away after a good meal, your loneliness will fade too. So go ahead, reach out to someone today!

Be Proactive :

We all share this story : We had a ton of friends in school and college and then we graduated and started our adult life and eventually our social circle started falling apart. We lose our community and we start feeling lonely often. How do we get over this?

Be the proactive person in your old friends circle. Reach out to people and start making plans because no one else is going to do it for you.

If you think about it “ In schools and college, we are forced to attend classes and be a part of this social circle. We are forced to make plans”

But in the real world, no one is going to do it for us! No one. We have to be the person who arranges meetings and makes plans with friends!

Use this strategy :

  • Don’t ask them : “ What are you doing this weekend? Want to hang out?”
  • Invite them : Say this “ Hey, we are going to hike this weekend. Would be nice if you could join us”

This way they know that the event is happening with or without them : Which introduces a healthy FOMO which could make all the difference!

Note : You are not tricking anyone. You are just trying to connect with old friends who are stuck in their own cycle of work and worries. It’s good for them too!

Converse as much as you can : 

This could sound obvious but here’s the tip that matters. You are reading this article because you are having trouble with doing the exact thing. 

  • Forced events : Joining courses and events for the sake of socializing 
  • Extended conversations : Whenever you have a small conversation in your day to day life, gather up the courage to get to know the person just a little bit more!
  • Share more about yourself : Lonely people tend to share less! So try to share more about yourself. What you like to do, your interests, thoughts and problems!

When we consciously make the effort to connect and converse with people, we might just find a friend when we least expect it!

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase! Just take the first step!”

Schedule shared experiences with the people you love : 

We often connect loneliness with being physically alone but what we actually crave is shared experiences with people.

If you are really lonely, then try to create shared experiences with your friends, family and loved ones. A virtual coffee date with your partner! Or a group video call with your old friends! Playing an online game together works as well! Maybe workout together virtually!

System to Track for the most important people :

Here’s an amazing idea I found on the Internet which could make your life so much better! Have a system where to track the interactions you had with your close friends and the important people in your life that you care about

  • This will give you the initiative to begin conversations and fill your life up with the people you love
  • You won’t feel so lonely when you do this and maintain a healthy relationship with people in your life!

Build Yourself :

“Every situation brings with it an unique opportunity”

If we are very overwhelmed by emotions, then it’s hard for us to think clearly. But if we journal, meditate and get comfortable being by ourselves, we will be unstoppable. Knowling what we love to do and doing it consistently, not because of goals but because we love the process, will set us going in the right path. We will suddenly be happy with who we are and what we are doing in life that it will start attracting people! You will find more like minded people. 

OTHER TIPS:

Adopt a Pet :

  • Even if you are not a big fan of having pets, give it a shot,especially if you are lonely!
  • Pets reduce the amount of cortisol in our body ( stress hormone)
  • Pets reduce Blood pressure as well
  • 70% of pet owners state that they would rather spend time with pets than with television
  • Pets are really comfortable companions who showers us with love and with reduced stress and loneliness, the chances of us getting back on good mental health is very high!

Practice Gratitude : 

  • Gratitude is a tool that helps us see and appreciate the good things in our life from our own body, mind and health to the people in our lives like our parents, friends and loved ones.
  • How can gratitude help with loneliness?
    • Changed Perspective : Chronic loneliness can lead people to think that the world is against them. Practicing gratitude every single day can help people break that pattern of thinking and help them see that there’s so much good in their life!
    • Better relationships : Gratitude helps us form satisfying relationships in our life because we start appreciating everyone and everything in our lives. 
    • Self love : Emotions of gratitude will break the pattern of thinking where people blame themselves and have a really negative perspective of their own self. This change can be everything you need to get out of the loneliness mindset

Take a break from Social media : 

  • Social media is very similar to alcohol, drug or tobacco addiction. When we get enough dopamine out of social media and fill our lives with scrolling endlessly through the balck scream, we stop making any efforts to really connect with people and find satisfying relationships
  • Studies have proven this and have stated that social media can often cause loneliness and depression
  • Taking a break from social media can make you feel empty at first, but this is a void that you need to fill with something else that makes you feel more alive! Does it make sense? 

Understand more about the relationship between social media disorder and loneliness here

FAQ:

How do I stay positive during loneliness?

  • Knowing that loneliness is temporary and almost everyone in this world feels lonely often.
  • Understand that the stress and the anxiety you are feeling is because of loneliness. Hence its only temporary 

AUTHOR SECTION

Written by Sai Subramaniam

Sai has over 4 years experience writing about mental health and productivity. He shares his thoughts about love, life and business in this blog. His goal is to help people become the best version of themselves and is guided by experts in the psychology and mental health field to help educate everyone about lifestyle and productivity

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