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    Beating Loneliness to Find Your Happy

Rebecca Bennington Blog Picture

 

Is being alone contributing to you being unhappy? Well, you’re not alone, pardon the pun. In a 2023 survey by scienceofpeople.com and statista.com, 52% of Americans reported feeling lonely, and 47% felt their relationships lacked meaning. In their 2021 survey, Americans felt most lonely compared to 28 other countries. “Researchers found that living alone, having poor health, infrequent social interactions, and being unmarried predict loneliness across all age groups.” Loneliness has also been linked to mental health issues such as suicidal thoughts. Loneliness is related to heart issues, depression, and other physical health risks, like type 2 diabetes, dementia, depression, addiction, and anxiety. See, I told you you’re not alone.

The following steps might help you leave the house, find a friend, and regain happiness. Though labeled as essential, I advise you that these steps may not be accomplished on the first or fifth attempt.

  1. Recognize that loneliness is common

You sometimes understand that others feel lonely not only in America but around the world. Remember, at the beginning of this article, 51% of the Americans surveyed felt lonely, and Americans were the most likely to feel alone. Also, it’s possible to feel lonely even if you have a loved one, significant other, children, or many friends. Again, you are not alone in this battle.

  1. Nurture existing relationships

As mentioned, you can feel lonely even with others around you. It may be time to reconnect with those who love you or are already friends. Reality check: it is up to you to strengthen those bonds, even if you feel they have distanced themselves from you.

Here are some ideas for connecting again:

  • Start with something small, like a text message or phone call.
  • Schedule time each day or week to call or visit a friend.
  • Create recurring weekly plans with a friend or loved one, like watching a favorite TV show each week.
  • Invite someone over for dinner.
  • Start conversations with neighbors when you can.
  • Use social media to reconnect with those you’ve lost touch with due to time or distance.
  1. Practice positive self-talk

When we feel lonely, it can be easy to get caught up in negative talk about ourselves, which can make us feel even worse and even more alone. Have you said something like, “No one wants to be around me,” or “I’m no fun to be around, anyway?”

To confront this, try incorporating more positive self-talk to show compassion and self-love. Try catching these negative thoughts and replacing them with a positive message instead. Talking positively about yourself and your life can change how you view yourself and how you go about your day. The process of positive self-talk may take practice, but it can be a crucial piece of addressing loneliness. You may even feel silly doing self-talk and bet you do it already; do more of it.

  1. Try a new hobby

Boredom can add weight to loneliness, giving us time to wallow in negative feelings. If you’re already dealing with loneliness or social isolation, sitting in boredom likely won’t help. Instead, try to find something you enjoy occupying your time and give your mind something to focus on.

Hobbies you do by yourself can be fun and beneficial, but it may be even better to attempt ones that get you out more and connect with others. For instance, you could find a club or group with similar hobbies or activities you like doing. Or join an outdoor club, which is usually free or costs minimal.

  1. Find volunteer opportunities

One way to beat loneliness is to put yourself in places where you can meet new, happy people. By volunteering, you’re not only putting yourself in a place where you can meet people but you’ll also be focused on a task or a new passion. It can also leave you with something to look forward to if you struggle to find meaning in your life.

Another benefit of volunteering is choosing a cause that interests you, so the people you meet will likely share your interests. For example, if you love animals, you might volunteer at a local animal shelter.

These last two steps can be difficult to recognize or even admit to being a possibility. But this is about you being happy and healthy.

  1. Recognize the effects

Loneliness can have a range of effects on an individual’s physical health and mental health. Studies show loneliness and social isolation can increase blood pressure, weaken your immune system, and affect brain functioning. Loneliness can also disrupt sleep and negatively impact you’re eating and exercise levels.

Finally, loneliness can also affect your mental health. Loneliness and social isolation are frequently associated with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and more. Loneliness is also a familiar feeling among individuals with suicidal thoughts. If you are experiencing loneliness, it is not something to take lightly—it can have wide-ranging adverse effects, so it is important to address it.

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline can be reached at 988 and is available 24/7.

  1. Seek professional help

Navigating feelings of loneliness can be difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone: professional help is available. Suppose you are experiencing feelings of loneliness and need support. In that case, you can speak with your doctor or a mental health professional for help. In some cases, a persistent feeling of loneliness could be tied to depression, in which case, your doctor may suggest a range of treatment options, such as therapy and medication.

A therapist can help you explore the factors behind your feelings, find ways to cope and move forward. Other concerns surrounding your emotions can also be addressed in treatment. For example, suppose you’ve recently lost someone in the family or a close friend. In that case, you may be experiencing both loneliness and grief and having an experienced professional support you through the healing process can make all the difference.

Remember, loneliness is a universal experience, and fostering strong social bonds and community connections is essential for overall well-being. If you or someone you know is struggling with loneliness, consider reaching out to friends and family or seeking professional support.

 

www.betterhelp.com

www.psychologytoday.com

www.webMD.com

Craig Gallaugher

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