When people feel lonely and depressed, they will typically have low self-esteem too.
If you find that you constantly berate yourself for feeling down, think about what you would say to a friend going through something like this. Consider how you might be able to help them feel better. Rather than being self-critical, remember that you deserve compassion too, so treat yourself kindly in any moment when you are not feeling so good.
Loneliness is not an abstract condition that affects only certain kinds of people. The truth is that feelings of loneliness can affect anyone—young, old, and in-between—and at any point in life.
It’s not uncommon for the elderly, people going through a breakup, divorce, or death of a loved one, and young people to struggle with loneliness. Generation Z adults (ages 18-22), in fact, are feeling lonelier than almost any other population.
Loneliness can be due to so many different factors, and can affect both your emotional and physical health long-term.
The online world can be a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to loneliness and social isolation. Log on or log off—which is healthier? It all depends.
- The online world offers non-threatening and convenient ways to connect with others that can help if you’re trying to overcome loneliness. Things like multi-player gaming, chat and message sites, even online dating sites can offer ways to interact and engage with others that’s satisfying for some people. There are also online apps designed to help you deal with issues like loneliness and social isolation.
- What about social media? Is it good for you when you’re dealing with loneliness? For some people, the online world may contribute to even greater feelings of loneliness and isolation. Social media, for example, can portray people who seem to be living exciting, happy-go-lucky lives with hundreds of good friends at their side. Reality is that this is generally not reality. Social media can make some people feel inadequate, left out, and feeling lonely. Bottom line, if being online seems more isolating than connected, it may be a sign you need to log off.
Volunteering is an opportunity to feel less lonely. Volunteer opportunities are usually plentiful. Contributing your time and energy, working alongside others for a good cause, can effectively help you in fighting loneliness. Volunteer activities are shown to ease stress, reduce feelings of depression, can help you make friends, and connect with others, and overall make you a happier person.
A sense of happiness, fulfillment, and connection to others is yet another way to stop feeling lonely.
Psychotherapist Elizabeth Ritchie believes that ‘sadly, loneliness is recognised as one of the most significant mental, physical and social problems in society today, not surprisingly exacerbated by the Covid 19 pandemic. It is prevalent among older people but many young people are also affected. Many of us who are lonely feel trapped in a state of social isolation and disconnect which can be intertwined with depression and other mental health illnesses.
The key to tackle these issues is in one word Communication! Avoiding speaking about loneliness can impact on self-esteem and can negatively affect interpersonal relationships
Health professionals have resources to support and can provide non-clinical services like community groups, activities, or emotional support networks and “Social prescribing schemes” are now being developed as a result of these challenging societal issues.
Some tips to combat loneliness
Spend time outdoors if possible to be closer to nature and fresh air
We are often happiest when we are mentally engaged so find ways to keep your mind active or at least distracted, i.e. games, puzzles, crosswords
Reduce your time on social media, however for older adults, this can be a benefit as it can facilitate crucial connections.
Keep in touch with your friends, some of them may feel the same way.
Be mindful of your self-care. Create a positive “to do “list. Include things that you enjoy doing, people that you enjoy talking to, programmes/films that you like watching. You can be your best cheerleader to navigate the challenging feelings and emotions associated with loneliness.’
Rest Less’s Lifestyle Editor Elise Christian states that ‘Loneliness is something many of us encounter at various stages of our lives but persistent loneliness (feeling lonely more than once a week) can have an adverse impact on our mental and physical health. Research has shown that people who experience persistent loneliness are more likely to suffer from health conditions such as dementia, heart disease and depression for example.
There are some measures we can take to tackle loneliness. The first step is to acknowledge it. Sometimes we can busy ourselves so much that we can’t find the time to stop and reflect on how we’re really feeling.
Secondly, if you have lots of people around you but you still feel lonely, it might be because the relationships don’t run deep enough. Try to foster high quality and meaningful relationships which are founded on shared interests or experiences.
Thirdly, focus on the positives of being alone. Sometimes we have no alternative and it’s really important to be comfortable in our own company as we will all have times in our lives when we are by ourselves.
Finally, they say comparison is the thief of joy. Sometimes loneliness can creep up on us when we spend too much time comparing ourselves to others. Social media has made this even more common. When reflecting on your own goals and achievements, the only person you should ever compare yourself to is you! It’s hard to find true contentment if you’re comparing yourself to someone else’s so it’s a great habit to try and break.’
For more information:
Liz Ritchie: Lizritchie.org
Rest Less: www.restless.co.uk/press
Age UK is becoming a leading expert in loneliness reduction services, like the creation of the loneliness app.