Loneliness is often described as a state of mind which can leave you feeling isolated and disconnected from others and can have serious effects on your health both emotionally and physically leaving you exhausted, restless and suffering from insomnia.
Everyone experiences loneliness at some point in their lives, the degree and varying circumstances differs from person to person, and you don’t necessarily need to be alone to feel it.
Factors that play a part in feeling this emotion are:
- Death of someone close to you.
- Divorce (and with-it isolation).
- A new job
- Relocation to a new suburb/town/country
- Retirement (loss of purpose)
- Working from home (especially prevalent during covid)
- Losing your job
- Children leaving home for university, moving to their own accommodation or getting married.
Prolonged loneliness can have serious health implications and can affect the quality of your life. It is important to cope with these feelings by finding something to occupy your mind and time. A few suggestions are:
- Joining a social group or club such as a hiking club/book club /art class/ fitness class where you can meet likeminded people enjoying what you have an interest in. It is a good way to interact and make new friends.
- Volunteer your time at an organisation that you are passionate about or interested in. These organisations often need help fundraising or organising events and this provides much needed company and purpose and will give you a sense of accomplishment and pride knowing you have made a difference in someone else’s life.
- Contact family and friends, to meet up or just to chat with. Reacquainting yourself with friends from your past or a school you went to helps to combat loneliness. It is more of a case of you needing and wanting the contact more than they do which means a greater effort on your part will be required.
- Try a new hobby. This could be anything from writing poetry, painting to joining a dance class. Try something out that you never thought you could do, were always scared to and never thought of you may just surprise yourself.
- Exercise as often as you can, whether it is a walk or cycle around the block, a class at the gym or a session at home following someone on you tube. Exercising is good for your body, both mentally and physically.
- List all the positives that you have in your life every day whether it is your health, a job, a roof over your head, food on your table or family or friends around you. There are many things to be thankful for and gratitude and positivity are key as is choosing to be positive and happy.
Try and plan for your daily or weekly activities so you know what is coming and you have something to look forward to. This requires effort and organisation from your part and accepting that not everything will fall into place when you want it to. There will be days when you won’t want to do anything, that binge watching a series on netflix is all you want to do and that’s perfectly fine, we all need those chill out days.
At the end of the day, whether you are out for the whole day or part of the day you will come home to silence and possibly solitude (if you live alone). Accepting this is important and not something that should be dreaded. Not everyone has the space to do what they want, when they want and if they want to so relish in what you have, enjoy the time spent alone as it helps you to understand and appreciate who you are, and it gives you a chance to self-reflect. It is a time to be at peace, regain your energy and relax.
It is important to get the right healthy dosage of loneliness for you, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. Don’t be afraid to be alone, take time out for yourself to understand you and what you want. By doing this it becomes enjoyable to meet up with people as and when you want to and when you have recharged your batteries and are ready for the world again.