Loneliness is a consistent challenge for many people today. If unchecked it is easy to conclude that no one likes you. One challenge of being lonely is that it increases a person’s vulnerability. For instance, in the course of craving for attention, some have settled for anyone who accepts them as a friend, making themselves easy prey for criminals.
Do you know that loneliness increases the risk of depression and early death? Indeed, it has been reported to be worse than obesity and may be as dangerous as consuming up to 15 cigarettes daily in predicting early death.
Why do people feel lonely? Many factors contribute to loneliness. Let’s consider 3 common reasons.
One important consideration is your personality. Our personality affects our outlook, attitudes, feelings and ability to cope with challenging situations. For instance, a person may have anxious-avoidant personality traits which may make it difficult for him or her to initiate and maintain friendships despite a strong desire for relationships. For such individuals, more effort will certainly be needed to fight loneliness. In contrast, some persons prefer their privacy to spending time with others. Some popular artists complain of loneliness. Although surrounded by a huge number of fans and having thousands of Facebook followers, many complain of not having that feeling of closeness with others. This clearly shows that though you may experience loneliness when alone, your perception of being alone determines if this will likely occur.
Do you know that one of the downsides of technology is its impact on human relations? Have you ever felt lonely despite sending lots of texts, chats and email? Many people are glued to phones, video games, TV, music players and other time consuming activities that may isolate them from other humans. These gadgets facilitate communication, businesses, meetings and online transactions. Unfortunately, our involvement with these tools significantly reduces time available for social interactions. This may lead to a huge loss in social skills required to initiate conversations and develop friendships.
Another common reason is changing circumstances. This has been shown to worsen feelings of loneliness. Growing old, retirement, ill-health, empty nest syndromes, bereavement, separation are conditions that are associated with loneliness. During these periods, individuals ironically have more time and less capacity to engage in social activities. Some check their phones repeatedly for new calls, texts or emails to disappointingly find that no one had reached out to them all day.
Have you ever felt lonely? Do you sometimes feel left out of all the fun? Try out these 5 practical steps in dealing with loneliness.
1. Learn to Develop True Friendship
Yes, you may have many friends, but how many are really close and supportive? How many are willing to give a listening ear when you need it? Take the initiative. Say ‘hello!’ Learn to initiate and make real friends. You should nourish your friends with time and attention. Because of changing circumstances, some may no longer live nearby. That shouldn’t prevent you from keeping in touch with them. Sometimes reconnecting with old friends may be all we need to ride out overwhelming feelings of loneliness.
2. Engage in Social activities
Do you have a hobby? Can you pick up fun activities, pursue new interest or join new groups? These will help you stay fresh and kick out boredom-a platform for thoughts of loneliness. Many games and sports involve social interactions with others. You may invite people over for group games like scrabble and card games. Be persistent, if one does not work, try another. Remember to turn up when invited to social events. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy the occasion.
3. Be Kind and Generous to Others
It is not just enough to identify the needs of others. Try to offer practical help and words of encouragement and advice. You may consider volunteering for community development projects or be part of non-governmental initiatives. Being kind to others allows you to reconnect with people, boost your self-esteem and conquer feelings of loneliness.
4. Tap into the Benefits of Solitude
You cannot be in the presence of others all the time. Many high profile individuals crave for moments of privacy-without security details, paparazzi and the general public-when they can really be alone. You should treasure moments of aloneness too. Ask yourself: What can I choose to do to stop feeling lonely? Then plan ahead for such moments by writing down specific things to do. You could use periods of solitude to plan, meditate or learn new things or skills. Some use the time to read, write or enjoy interests like cooking and gardening. Indeed, having such hobbies may make finding friends easier.
5. Reach Out to Others to overcome Loneliness
It is easy to conclude you have been deliberately left out by your friends. Do not let this disturb you from reaching out to others. Do not limit your friends to a particular age group, social status or race. You will discover pleasant and exciting moments when you show genuine interest in others. Yes, showing interest in the needs and feelings of others reduces your attention to negative thoughts and lonely feelings.
Do not fall into the trap of loneliness. Consider fighting it by taking these 5 practical steps.
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