How-to-Deal-with-Loneliness

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How to Deal with Loneliness Using 9 Expert Backed Strategies

loneliness

Man is referred to as a social being for a reason; the need to communicate and interact with other people and things in his environment. However, to most people, having a list of friends, family, colleagues and contacts in your life does not mean you will not feel lonely because the world is more connected than before due to the presence of social media and the internet, where friends and strangers alike who live far away from each other and have different lives can communicate effectively.

The co-founder of Headspace and former Buddhist monk, Andy Puddicombe concludes that, “in a world where we are seemingly connected (via our devices), so many people say they feel increasingly disconnected, isolated or lonely”.

On this note, we are saddled with answering two questions, the first being, “why do many of us still feel lonely?”

For many people, feeling lonely is a result of low self-esteem or self-confidence. Doctors have found that loneliness is closely linked to your mental health. According to them, people with mental health issues are more likely to feel lonely and experience some side effects as a result as compared to those with stronger mental health and healthy self-esteem and self-confidence.

Additionally, people naturally tend to feel lonely in their lives at some point. Different circumstances may come together and these pose a huge factor in loneliness. These factors may include the death of a loved one, a divorce or break-up in business or relationship, a relocation, etc. It could also be due to a short or terminal illness. Doctors detected that people who are lonely may likely experience high blood pressure, overall body inflammation and a weaker immune system.

Furthermore, some people might just feel isolated and disconnected from the world so much that even in a room full of people, with a phone full of contacts, and a social media account full of willing and engaging friends and audience, they still feel lonely. This feeling can stem from an inner disability to connect with others and may kickstart a wave of negative feelings if not curbed.

The second question posed would be, “How can we deal with loneliness?”

This is actually our main focus in this article.

But before we dive deeper, let us understand that both doctors and psychologists have warned that “it is normal to feel lonely” because in all of these cases, there are ways to feel less alone.

A common action people are in a haste to take when they feel lonely is to try to escape the feeling, thereby leading them to seek a distraction. This is why many people experiencing loneliness end up being distracted by harmful substances.

There are countless other people experiencing loneliness in a manner you are not even familiar with. Don’t try to push past these feelings because the more you do, the more you sink and get lost in those feelings. Instead, you try to navigate them.

With man being a social being, improving your relationship with yourself and others will go a long way toward helping you feel less alone because connection fosters survival. Beyond that, the key to dealing with loneliness is to skillfully work it out; this way, we feel more at ease and able to cope with our situation.

So, if you are not sure how to deal with loneliness, this article has put together proven strategies from psychologists, doctors and therapists on how to deal with loneliness.

How to deal with loneliness: 9 expert-backed strategies to deal with it

1. Look inward and acknowledge your feelings of loneliness

People attach certain stereotypes and stigmas to being lonely. Loneliness, however, makes you feel like an outcast, not an actual outcast.

Gabrielle Jayner, a 56 year old widow, shares her experience. “I really felt like an outcast, someone abandoned, though I had people in the village around me, it wasn’t the same as my husband and admitting that to myself was very tough because it was like accepting your are a shoplifter, I know the both aren’t the same but I couldn’t help the comparison. Over time I tried to tell myself that I’m lonely, and then I admitted it to my sons. Contrary to my initial thoughts, they didn’t try to get me from my hometown, instead they took turns in visiting me often with my grandchildren”

The first step to dealing with loneliness is acknowledgment. Though the act of admitting loneliness to others can make you feel shame and fear that you are admitting a big problem, do it anyway. Many people keep being trapped within the confines of loneliness because of the fear of judgment, but doing so will do so much harm to their psychological well-being When you are honest with yourself first, you are one step closer to dealing with loneliness.

2. Understand that you are not alone

Many people who suffer from loneliness tend to think they are alone. Like Sarah said, “I had family around me, yet I felt more alone than ever. Then my niece’s pet had to stay at the vet’s for a few days, I often found her sulking in a corner, talking to her made me feel that I’m not alone. She also was experiencing loneliness and that was something I could relate to.”

Loneliness is not a death sentence, for every lonely person, there are millions of others around. That’s why it is important to understand that you are not alone. Understanding loneliness is like dealing with the causative agent; you feel like the battle of combating loneliness is half solved; just like the popular saying goes, “a problem shared is a problem half solved”.

3. Meditate and reflect on your feelings of loneliness

Loneliness looks and feels different for everyone. That’s why meditation and reflection can go a long way toward helping you figure out what kind of loneliness you are dealing with. There are two forms in which loneliness manifests, briefly (which may be triggered by a situation on ground) and over a prolonged period.

Meditation helps you connect with the present and take your mind off the feelings of loneliness, which in turn would lessen the impact, while reflection would help you notice signs that were not there before, which involves asking yourself questions and giving each answer honestly.

If you feel lonely occasionally and suddenly begin to feel lonely often, you should pause and ask yourself why.  Then try to focus on the present through meditation and breathing exercises. Research shows that these practices help to release tension and help you live in the present.

4. Talk to people you know

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Opening up to someone you know and trust is very helpful in dealing with loneliness. Though the thought of showing your vulnerability to someone can be very scary, it might help to know that you are doing so for your own good. It might feel really overwhelming but taking slow, meaningful steps in this direction is something you should look forward to.

5. Make new connections

It is not every time that your family, friends or people in your circle are helpful when you are feeling lonely. In this case, you have to make and foster new connections with people.

No truer words have been said than that of Megan Bruneau, author of the book How to Be Alone (And Together) that, “loneliness is a healthy emotion, revealing places we yearn for connection.”

Sometimes our loneliness stems from not being in contact with other people and sadly for you, the people around you aren’t helping. But you should not let that feeling bring you down because there’s someone for you out there, making new connections is the key.

You can join an online community with people with the same interests as you or volunteer for a cause you are passionate about. These will help you meet up with like-minded individuals.

6. Learn to be comfortable in your own company

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A popular saying goes, “you are your own best friend”. Taking time alone is very helpful in dealing with loneliness. Lots of friends around you can only go a mile, being yourself can take you several miles. In fact, you should reduce your time on social media because people’s posts could be triggering and you may begin comparing yourself to others.

Instead, engage in self-care and start doing activities you enjoy by yourself. It could be listening to a podcast you enjoy, taking a walk around, cooking a meal, doing small craft work, seeing a movie etc. Slow down, take your time to relax, reignite self-love and look after your physical health.

7. Give back to society

Giving back helps you feel a sense of accomplishment and also helps you connect with people. It could be volunteering for a cause you love, visiting hospitals and talking to patients. This way, you meet people who relate to your feelings of loneliness and you become more aware that you are not alone. Helping others helps you too.

8. Practice mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can include spending time in nature by taking a walk, gardening, or keeping a gratitude journal. All these activities help you reflect and meditate, thereby helping you clear out your feelings.

9. Talk to a mental health professional

If you have taken these steps to deal with loneliness and it seems you are not getting any further, working with a professional would be of help to you. Sometimes we need one another to fully come to terms with ourselves and move on to a better place. A behavioral therapy program would go a long way toward helping you deal with loneliness.

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