Everyone gets lonely from time to time.
Maybe a relationship’s ended; you’ve moved house, or lost someone close. But if your loneliness becomes long lasting, then it can turn into a real problem.
Because when people are lonely they drink more, take less exercise, eat worse diets and sleep badly.
Loneliness is also associated with issues like depression, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s.
You can feel lonely even when you’re surrounded by other people. Because loneliness is not the same as being alone. It’s the FEELING of being alone, empty and unwanted.
Because it’s not the lack of companionships that’s the problem, but the lack of connection and emotional intimacy.
And it’s getting more common. In our frantic modern world, many people no longer feel really close to anyone. Especially women, and those who’re unemployed or retired.
Loneliness often runs in families, and is commonest among people who lack confidence, or believe that other people judge or look down on them.
That often starts at a very early age. Without loving, reliable parents, children become lonely adults.
And as fewer people get married, and we live further from our families, childhood becomes more solitary and more complicated. So more children grow up to be lonely adults.
What can be done to prevent that? Teaching social skills in school would help a,s would building an economy that provides full employment.
But what can you do if you’re lonely right now?
Work on being comfortable with who you are. Focus on your good qualities instead of the negative ones.
Because once you learn to like yourself more, you’ll find yourself enjoying other people’s company more too.
Get up with the sun and live in the moment. Reconnect with people you already know and try to make your relationships with them more meaningful.
Make new friends, one at a time. Be patient and take things slowly. It takes time to get to know one another and develop trust.
Focus more on others and less on yourself. Look for opportunities to do voluntary work. You’ll meet new people, and doing something useful for someone who needs your help will give you great satisfaction. And you’ll start feeling more connected.
If you believe that you’re lonely because no one likes you, or if you feel insecure, fear rejection, or suffer from anxiety, get professional help.
If you’re constantly hanging out with people just to avoid feeling lonely, learn to like being alone.
Because in our over-connected digital world, it’s easy to forget how nice it is to have time for yourself.
So instead of endlessly scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, or texting everyone anytime you’re alone, take the time to pray, meditate or think about what you really want in life.
You’ll get to know yourself better, and will start feeling more relaxed and self-confident. Other people will sense your new confidence and respond to it, and so your friendships and relationships will improve.