Loneliness can be a complicated emotion. It’s normal to feel lonely sometimes, and while loneliness isn’t necessarily a mental health problem, the two can be strongly linked. We know that it’s possible to feel lonely in a crowded room full of people, and possible to be alone without feeling lonely. So, what is loneliness, and how can we cope when we’re feeling it?
What is Loneliness?
When asked what it’s like to feel lonely, what comes to mind? For many, feeling lonely is correlated with isolation or a lack of social contact. However, we also know that even when we’re surrounded by other people or we’re spending time with a partner, it’s possible to feel lonely too. This is usually because we don’t feel heard, understood or connected to those around us.
Loneliness is not a mental health condition. However, some research suggests that loneliness is often associated with more serious mental health issues and manifests as a side effect of depression, anxiety and heightened stress. Unfortunately, loneliness can put us in a bit of a vicious cycle—being lonely damages our mental health or self-esteem, and those issues can lead to more feelings of loneliness.
What Causes Loneliness?
There are many things that can cause us to feel lonely, and sometimes it helps to get to the root of the problem.
Have you recently experienced any of the following things that can cause loneliness?
- A death in the family
- A recent break up or loss of a friend
- A large change in lifestyle, such as retirement or moving to a new city
- Lack of regular social contact
- Physical or sexual abuse
- A crisis or trauma in your life
- Feeling like you don’t fit in
How to Cope with Loneliness
It’s hard to break the cycle of loneliness at times, but there are a few simple things you can do to get started.
Reach out to loved ones – Sometimes, simply reaching out to those we love and telling them how we feel can reignite a connection and help us to feel understood.
Make new connections – What are your hobbies and interests? If you’re longing to meet new people, start by identifying things you enjoy and then look for hobby clubs or local events you can attend to meet new people.
Stay busy – Feeling lonely can make us want to recoil further from social activity and stay at home. Push yourself a bit outside of your comfort zone to get out of the house and do things you enjoy.
Talk to a professional – If you feel like you’re not making any progress or that your loneliness is linked to a mental health condition, it may be time to speak to a counsellor. Counsellors can help you identify the root cause of your loneliness and develop healthy coping strategies to get back on track.
If you are feeling despair and loneliness, give Your Counselling a call. We offer free consultations and can help you take the first steps towards getting back to a happy and healthy life.