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Loneliness No More: 5 Simple Steps To Improve Your Social Life

May 18, 2023

9 min read

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Author : United We Care
Loneliness No More: 5 Simple Steps To Improve Your Social Life

Introduction

I love people, and most often, people love me. I have always found it easy to make friends, go to parties, and be surrounded by friends and family. And even then, there came a time in my life when, even though I had so many people around me, I felt lonely [2]. In these digital times also, where we are more connected than ever before, we can feel lonely.

Loneliness is a state of mind that disturbs us when we feel disconnected from those around us. This feeling of loneliness does not see age, race, or gender. It impacts nearly 61% of people globally.

You may feel that lonely people don’t have a social life, but the reality is that you can feel lonely because of physical and emotional distance or not being able to have meaningful conversations. Along with emotional issues, it can impact physical as well as mental health. Empathy and compassion can be the answer to loneliness as they provide a sense of belongingness and inclusion.

“The loneliness you feel is actually an opportunity to reconnect with others and yourself.” – Maxime Lagacé [1]

What is The Science Behind Loneliness?

Loneliness is like creating a wall around you. While being surrounded by people, you can still feel lonely. Although there is no single reason for loneliness, many scientific factors can contribute to it [3] [4] [5] [6]:

Science behind Loneliness

  1. Psychological Factors: If you have a fear of talking to people or don’t know how to start and maintain conversations, you are more susceptible to feeling lonely. A lack of social skills and your own thoughts about yourself can cause people to misunderstand and outcast you from a gathering.  All this can add to negative emotions and stress levels.
  2. Social Factors: You might have heard people say they have “online friends.” From Orkut to Omegle, many online chat platforms are available for us to make friends. But if you don’t have close relationships and actual physical interactions with people, then you can tend to feel lonely. We also need to understand that since we don’t know the people we meet online well enough, they can add to the sense of superficiality and disconnection, further increasing loneliness.
  3. Biological Factors: Health conditions can severely affect our emotional well-being. Chronic physical diseases like cancer and heart conditions can make us irritable and add to feelings of loneliness. Furthermore, conditions such as depression, anxiety, or social phobia can create barriers to relationships, contributing to a cycle of loneliness.

How Does Loneliness Begin?

If you think that loneliness only happens as an adult, then you couldn’t be more wrong. Loneliness actually has its roots in our childhood. In fact, as we grow old, feelings of loneliness can increase [3].

As a child, you might not be very good at making friends. And, even if you were, you might have to stay away from your family and friends because of work and studies. So, in a new place, making new friends may not be easy. Even the kind and quality of friends you make may not be the same back home. Plus, you might not have the right skills to talk to people. For that reason, they might outcast you, and that can add to you feeling lonely right from early adolescence. [7]

If you grew up in a family or environment that did not take care of you properly, did not love you, or there was physical and emotional abuse, then you can have an insecure attachment style. The biggest trait of people with an insecure attachment is the fear of abandonment- you might worry that everyone will leave you eventually. These thoughts can add to loneliness [8].

What are The Consequences of Loneliness?

Loneliness can impact everything around you [9]:

  1. Emotional Discomfort and Social Withdrawal: Whether you’re around people or not, you may still feel sad, empty, and uncomfortable. These feelings can make you feel disconnected, as if there is no contentment or joy in your life. You may also feel the need to avoid social gatherings.
  2. Anxiety and Depression: Anxiety, depression, and loneliness are interrelated. If you have faced anxiety and depression for a long time, loneliness can be a side effect. On the other hand, if you have had a sense of loneliness for a long time, anxiety and depression might increase.
  3. Low Self-Esteem: When we feel low on confidence and self-worth, we don’t like talking to anyone. A feeling of loneliness can make us think negatively about ourselves and lower our sense of value in social situations.
  4. Disturbed Sleep: Loneliness can disrupt sleep patterns. If you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restful sleep, loneliness has probably started setting in.
  5. Substance Abuse: Most people use substances to fill some kind of void or emptiness in their lives. It becomes their coping mechanism to elevate the feeling of loneliness.
  6. Increased Irritability and Lethargy: Loneliness can suck all the energy out of you, making you feel lethargic. Furthermore, you may feel irritated at the smallest of things, which can reduce your ability to cope with everyday triggers.
  7. Focus and Concentration Issues: If you are unable to focus and concentrate, face memory issues, and have a lower ability to understand things, it is possible to have feelings of loneliness.

How Do You Deal with Loneliness?

Loneliness is a feeling which means that you can allow yourself to feel differently. Just focus on the process, however long it might be [10]:

  1. Connect with People: The comfort zone makes us feel secure, but it also adds to our feelings of loneliness. Get out of the house, meet new people and old friends and family. You may talk to them and get to know them better. Go for activities and events you like. That way, you can expand your social circle and find like-minded people.
  2. Volunteer or Join Clubs: Helping society and the environment as a volunteer is a great stress-buster. When you see a smile on someone’s face, and they get comforted by your presence, you will feel less lonely. Moreover, if you pursue a hobby, you will feel more relaxed and rejuvenated. You never know; by volunteering, joining a club, and pursuing your hobby, you might find supportive people who fill your heart and help you overcome loneliness.
  3. Seek Professional Support: A mental health professional can help you understand the root cause of your loneliness. That way, you can address the issues, learn coping skills and develop a healthy relationship with yourself. United We Care is a platform where you can find the right help.
  4. Limit Social Media Use: The world of social media is mostly fake, as people don’t really show their real selves on it. Although these platforms can be helpful, overuse of them can be harmful. Set a time limit for yourself to use social media platforms. Five minutes of social media every hour is more than enough.
  5. Be Kind to Yourself and Practice Self-Care: You are not alone in feeling lonely. Just try being kind to yourself and avoid self-criticism and negative self-talk. To do so, you can indulge in self-care activities, like meditation, mindfulness, deep-breathing exercises, healthy eating, drinking enough water, and picking up hobbies you like.

Conclusion

Loneliness can happen to anyone at any age or stage of life. It can impact us mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially. Therefore, it is important to learn how to cope and overcome the feeling. Get out of your comfort zone, meet new people, pick up hobbies, and indulge in self-care. Essentially just be kind to yourself. It is important to remember that overcoming can take time and effort, but with the help of empathetic and compassionate people around, the journey might become easy.

If you feel low and need to talk to someone, connect with our expert counselors. At United We Care, a team of wellness and mental health experts will guide you with the best methods for well-being.

References

[1] “51 Loneliness Quotes That Will Make You Feel Seen,” Reader’s Digest, Feb. 08, 2022. https://www.rd.com/article/loneliness-quotes/

[2] J. T. Cacioppo and S. Cacioppo, “The growing problem of loneliness,” The Lancet, vol. 391, no. 10119, p. 426, Feb. 2018, doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(18)30142-9.

[3] P. Qualter et al., “Loneliness Across the Life Span,” Perspectives on Psychological Science, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 250–264, Mar. 2015, doi: 10.1177/1745691615568999.

[4] J. Holt-Lunstad, T. B. Smith, M. Baker, T. Harris, and D. Stephenson, “Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality,” Perspectives on Psychological Science, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 227–237, Mar. 2015, doi: 10.1177/1745691614568352.

[5] L. C. Hawkley, R. A. Thisted, C. M. Masi, and J. T. Cacioppo, “Loneliness predicts increased blood pressure: 5-year cross-lagged analyses in middle-aged and older adults.,” Psychology and Aging, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 132–141, Mar. 2010, doi: 10.1037/a0017805.

[6] L. C. Hawkley and J. T. Cacioppo, “Loneliness Matters: A Theoretical and Empirical Review of Consequences and Mechanisms,” Annals of Behavioral Medicine, vol. 40, no. 2, pp. 218–227, Jul. 2010, doi: 10.1007/s12160-010-9210-8.

[7] W. M. Bukowski, L. Sippola, B. Hoza, and A. F. Newcomb, “Pages from a sociometric notebook: An analysis of nomination and rating scale measures of acceptance, rejection, and social preference,” New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, vol. 2000, no. 88, pp. 11–26, 2000, doi: 10.1002/cd.23220008804.

[8] J. Cassidy and S. R. Asher, “Loneliness and Peer Relations in Young Children,” Child Development, vol. 63, no. 2, pp. 350–365, Apr. 1992, doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1992.tb01632.x.

[9] L. A. Rico-Uribe, F. F. Caballero, N. Martín-María, M. Cabello, J. L. Ayuso-Mateos, and M. Miret, “Association of loneliness with all-cause mortality: A meta-analysis,” PLOS ONE, vol. 13, no. 1, p. e0190033, Jan. 2018, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0190033.

[10] J. Cohen-Mansfield, H. Hazan, Y. Lerman, and V. Shalom, “Correlates and predictors of loneliness in older-adults: a review of quantitative results informed by qualitative insights,” International Psychogeriatrics, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 557–576, Oct. 2015, doi: 10.1017/s1041610215001532.

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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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