You have most likely experienced loneliness at some point in your life. Perhaps you are lonely right now. If that is the case, you are not alone. Studies are showing a signification increase in loneliness among Americans. In fact, the number of people experiencing loneliness has increased from 20% in the 80’s to 40%. That is equivalent to approximately 128,264,381 Americans. From a health perspective, loneliness can cause psychological effects that are stronger and more harmful than obesity and smoking. One British study shows that elderly people who are lonely because they do not visit their friends on a regular basis are almost 50% more likely to die before their time than those who do. Other health issues from loneliness include depression, suicide, drug abuse, the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, decreased memory and learning amongst other things.
If you are experiencing loneliness, here are some things to consider:
- Loneliness is a state of mind in which there is a perception of being alone and isolated.
- Being lonely means you actually care about human interaction. It is important to note that it’s not the number of interactions you have makes a difference. It is the quality of those interactions that really matter.
- This is why one can be in a room with 30 people and still feel lonely.
- Loneliness is different that being alone. Loneliness is the state of mine one is in when they are alone and feel sad about it.
So, if you are lonely, what do you need to do about it?
- Recognize what loneliness does to your body physically and mentally, see above.
- Understand that loneliness is a sign that something must change.
- Develop quality relationships with people you have common interest with.
- Focus on others. Work with community service providers and/or volunteer. This is a great way to meet people and care for those in need. Shifting the focus of your mind to others can help dramatically.
- Create action. It is easy to sit in a chair and wish things were different. Instead of wishing things were different, make things different by creating action in some way. Go for a walk, ask a friend to dinner, go see a friend. Do something to keep yourself busy.
- Attend social events as often as possible. If you get an offer to do something, instead of shying away. Push yourself to go. It may be a bit uncomfortable at first. Everything you will ever want will be only the others side of uncomfortable.
- Get a pet. Studies prove that getting a pet can greatly increase your happiness.