What is loneliness?
Loneliness is a feeling. It is a feeling humans experience when their social needs arenít met; when there is lack of social interaction in their lives, which they crave. Loneliness is different from solitude. The latter has all positive connotations ó choice made willingly by which the individual is happy. Loneliness on the other hand is a consequence derived from many factors.
These can range from personal issues such as loss of a partner or a loved one to a change in residence or physical location. Loneliness can also arise from some form of social stigma or financial problem or a health issue. It can also be a result of a psychological problem like depression.
How to deal with loneliness?
Dealing with loneliness is not easy. However it must be done before it becomes a big problem with damaging results leading to severe psychological problems and suicidal thoughts.
Here are some ways by which loneliness can be overcome.
Recognize the signs
First and foremost, recognize the signs of loneliness. Are you constantly bored and depressed? Are you always making excuses to stay isolated from the crowd? Are your appetite and food habits gearing toward a negative pattern? Simply put, are you malnourished or overeating? Are you out of touch with your family and friends? On a more serious note, do you have suicidal thoughts? Or have you lost your will to live?
The latter two are signs of extreme thoughts that can arise as a consequence of years of loneliness. They can also result from depression. Itís a damaging vicious cycleóloneliness and depression. Once you recognize the signs of your problem it is easier to tackle it.
The next important step in dealing with loneliness is to accept the signs and the fact that you need help. With this acceptance comes the willingness to seek help. Accepting the signs might not be easy as it means leaving the comfort of the invisible wall you have created to isolate yourself from the world for whatever reasons. Here acceptance of the fact that you are lonely and need help is primary and the reasons for your loneliness, secondary. This is not to mean that those reasons are not important because they are.
The next step in dealing with loneliness is to seek help and support of your loved ones. Confide in a trusted family member or friend and let them know that you are now ready to deal with your problem. Chances are they might already know of your problem. But coming from you validates the issue and allows them to help you freely.
Go for professional help
This is not necessary. But if you feel the need to speak to a psychiatrist or a therapist, go for it. You donít have to agree with them. But they might have something useful for you to lay the foundation of your healing on the right track.
Indulge in fun activities
It might be difficult at first. But you really need to come off the loneliness wagon. If you donít consciously plan your day, it might be very easy for you to get back in the isolation rut.
Begin with an activity that you had fun doing. A sport or a hobby, maybe. If you played a game then start playing it again with a friend or a partner. If you read books, maybe itís time now to begin again. Perhaps an old favorite can bring you back the joy you experienced the first time you read the story and make you want to experience this joy again.
Start something new
Learning a new skill or doing anything new or something that is out of the ordinary for you can really help a lot in dealing with loneliness and a sense of foreboding. Maybe you enroll yourself in a craft class and learn something new, but this way you also dress up and go out and meet new people. Even if you suck at making that candle, you will benefit from this activity or any such class that helps you go out and meet new people.
Keep a journal
Perhaps you are not someone who can talk to a therapist or even someone who opens up easily to people. All the bottled up feelings can really aggravate the loneliness issue going on in your life. Keeping a daily or weekly journal is a good idea to let all the muck and heavy stuff out so that you feel light inside.
Spend time alone
This might come across as contradictory. But the key to dealing with loneliness is one steady step at a time. All the socializing and activities could overwhelm you and might shut you down even worse than before. If you are okay with all the renewed activity in your life then that is great. But if you are wary, itís important to spend time alone to process it all.
It is also vital to spend time alone to process and deal with the reasons that caused you to become lonely in the first place. If it was a failed relationship or some sort of emotional or physical abuse, it is important to deal with them to yank them out of your life for good.
But the caveat here is to spend time alone a little differently. Go out in Nature for a run. Go alone and take some music with youósomething that makes you happy. Go to the beach if you have access to one. Go to a coffee shop alone. Go shopping alone. Staying home; all right, but watch a movie that makes you laugh or make a cup of green tea and read a book. Blast some music and dance your heart out. Or take a nap or a bubble bath. Spend time alone but do it in a way that makes you happy. Not like earlier when you detested being alone but you still stayed lonely.
No one needs to be lonely unless itís a choice.