Lost in a Crowd: How to Cope With Loneliness
People are a social species so all of us feel lonely sometimes. However, loneliness is a very personal feeling so everyone experiences it differently. According to statistics, about 61% of adults feel lonely, and many of them don’t know what to do about this feeling or don’t talk about it.
Generally, loneliness is what we feel when our need for relationships and rewarding social contact remains unsatisfied. However, if you keep asking yourself, “Why do I feel so lonely?” that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re actually alone.
Solitude vs. Loneliness
Loneliness is a feeling, not a state. Therefore, it’s important to understand the difference between loneliness and solitude. While some people may crave attention, there are also people who don’t need social interactions as much.
The feeling of loneliness is very subjective because it depends on how much social contact you need to feel good. On the one hand, some people may choose to be alone without experiencing any negative emotions associated with loneliness. On the other hand, people who have a lot of social contacts may still feel lonely. For instance, they may not be satisfied with the quality of these interactions.
Is Loneliness Bad for You?
Although loneliness is just a feeling, not a mental health problem, it can have a significant impact on your mental health and contribute to the development of various disorders, including depression and anxiety. Similarly, if you have certain mental health problems, you might be more likely to feel lonely.
For instance, there are many myths and misconceptions that surround mental health so it can be difficult for someone with a mental health disorder to talk to others about it. As a result, this person may feel lonely despite having a wide social circle.
People with social anxiety may feel lonely because they experience difficulties with engaging in everyday social activities. One may want to have meaningful interactions with others without being able to engage in them because of social anxiety.
The fear of loneliness may also be rooted in self-esteem issues. Therefore, even though loneliness itself isn’t a mental health diagnosis, if you keep asking yourself, “Why do I feel so lonely?” then the best solution is to consider therapy. A licensed therapist can help you figure out the reasons why you feel lonely and suggest effective ways of dealing with loneliness that may work for you.
Here’s how loneliness may impact you.
Researchers link stress that we experience when feeling lonely to depressed immunity. Research data also demonstrates a general connection between the feeling of loneliness and poor emotional and physical health.
Researchers also found out that the same areas of the brain that are associated with feelings of social exclusion are also responsible for processing physical pain. Therefore, it’s no surprise that people often feel physical pain and discomfort after a breakup.
According to a 2021 study, there is a strong connection between the symptoms of depression and loneliness among adultsaged 50 and older. Research data also shows that loneliness can increase the severity of depression, while depression may in turn make a person feel more lonely. Therefore, if you want to ease depression, you may also need to learn how to cope with loneliness.
Here are some tips that might help you cope with this feeling.
5 Tips to Cope With Loneliness
1. Acknowledge your feelings
The stigma that surrounds loneliness in society can make it difficult to admit that you’re feeling lonely. However, you won’t be able to do something about your problem unless you acknowledge it.
Therefore, the first step is to be honest about your loneliness with other people and yourself. Everybody feels lonely from time to time so there’s nothing wrong with feeling this way.
2. Make use of your existing connections
Sometimes, when people feel lonely, they may forget about some important things that are right in front of them. For instance, people often feel lonely because they only care about certain types of relationships and behaviors while forgetting about others.
Do your best to keep the connections that may remind you of how not lonely you really are. For instance, if you feel lonely after a breakup because of not being able to enjoy a particular type of relationship, don’t forget about friends and relatives who are still there for you.
3. Practice self-love and self-care
Don’t get too focused on your feeling of loneliness. Loneliness can negatively affect your self-esteem so it’s important to not let it damage your sense of self-worth. Take care of yourself and love yourself, regardless of how lonely you may feel.
No matter how many friends you have, you should always be your own best friend. If you don’t know what to do when you’re lonely, meditation, yoga, workout, or breathing exercises are all great ideas.
4. Practice kindness
Although it may look counterintuitive, loneliness often makes people isolate themselves from the world. One of the main reasons why it happens is that loneliness can damage one’s self-esteem, making them feel worthless.
Random acts of kindness can not only help you feel better about yourself but also increase levels of oxytocin, one of the so-called “happiness hormones” that is responsible for bonding.
Not only can you do something nice for strangers or neighbors, but you can also simply have short conversations with them. There’s no need to try hard to form close relationships — even weak bonds can make you feel less lonely and improve your well-being.
5. Consider therapy
The connection between loneliness and mental health is hard to overestimate. If you keep asking yourself, “Why do I feel so lonely?” then the best solution is to talk to a licensed therapist. A therapist can help you better understand your feelings and deal with the negative effects of loneliness on your mental health.
A great thing about talk therapy is that it can take place online so you won’t need to commute to a therapist’s office. Thanks to online therapy platforms like Calmerry, you can talk to a therapist from virtually anywhere. You can learn more about therapy to prepare for your first session.
Loneliness is a natural feeling that can nevertheless negatively affect your emotional and physical well-being. It’s important to keep in mind that, if you’re feeling lonely, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re alone. Even if you don’t have certain relationships or don’t get enough interactions of a certain type, you shouldn’t forget about other kinds of connections that you actually have.
The feeling of loneliness can fuel depression and negatively affect one’s self-esteem, so if this feeling becomes too strong, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A licensed therapist can help you better understand your feelings and help you figure out how to stop feeling down.