At one point or another almost all of us are going to experience loneliness. Even when we have friends around us we can feel loneliness creep in. Usually the feeling of loneliness cycles in and out, lasting only a short time. However, some times the feeling of being lonely is difficult to shake.
Loneliness isn't solely about the amount of time we spend in solitude; it's more about how we feel during that time. When the lonely feelings take hold it is accompanied by a chorus of self-criticism. The feelings are accompanied by an inner dialogue that tells us that we are alone because we are unwanted or unloved by the people around us. This inner dialogue actually ends up pushing us further away from others. Although, this inner dialogue might make you feel like it, feeling lonely doesn't mean something is wrong with you.
Chronic loneliness carries serious consequences, including compromised sleep quality, weakened physical health, and increased mortality risk. On the mental health front, it's associated with depression, timidity, memory distortions, and a tendency to focus on exclusion rather than inclusion, which fuels the critical inner voice. A lonely brain reacts differently to positive events, dampening the response to positivity and filtering the world through a negative lens. Loneliness can lead to a skewed perspective, making situations appear hopeless and the external world seem menacing or uncontrollable.
How to Stop Feeling Lonely
1. Acknowledge Your Emotions: In order to stop feeling lonely, you first need to acknowledge that you are feeling lonely. Your feelings can be valid, but they are not facts
2. Silence the Negative Voice: You need to remember that negative inner voice that accompanies the lonely is a liar. Imagine it is someone you really dislike. Are you still believing that voice if its connected to someone you dislike? Probably not!
3. Open Up to Trusted Friends: Reach out and connect with others. If you do have friends that you trust and feel safe with, let them know how you are feeling. Your friends cannot support you if they do not understand how you are feeling.
4. Limit Social Media: Stay off social media as it might make you feel more lonely. Social media can magnify feelings of loneliness. Take breaks from the digital world and focus on real, in-person interactions.
5. Embrace Human Connection: Go out and be around people, sometimes just being around others can help ward off the lonely feelings. You are much more likely to be able to combat lonely feelings if you are around other people instead of staying inside by yourself.
6. Sweat Out the Loneliness: Exercise isn't just for physical health – it can lift your mood too. Endorphins released during physical activity can provide temporary relief from loneliness. Double this up with the previous suggestion and head to the gym, to a yoga class, or some other fitness activity.
7. Plan for the Future: Be proactive in staving off future bouts of loneliness. Arrange gatherings with friends or family, sign up for group activities, or commit to volunteering regularly.
Bonus Tip: Seek Professional Support: Sometimes, the depths of loneliness can be challenging to navigate alone. Connecting with a therapist can offer a safe space to delve into your feelings and work towards building stronger connections.
Loneliness affects most people. There are many things you can do when trying to overcome it. The key is realizing how you feel and finding the best strategy for you. As you become aware of what this emotion is communicating to you, you’ll be able to identify what you can learn from it.
If you have tried different strategies and are still struggling with loneliness, contact us at Aligned Minds Counseling and Therapy. You deserve to be happy. You deserve therapy!