I had three clients recently who all told me similar things during their intake sessions, “I have a good career, many friends, and a strong relationship with my family, but I feel so lonely and empty inside.’’ Research had shown that loneliness among teenagers, young adults, and seniors has increased over the years.
Loneliness is something every person will experience at some point of time in their life. Loneliness is a state of distress or discomfort that creates a feeling of emptiness. It leads to a disconnect between what we feel and experience. This is especially true when it comes to the social and emotional connections we feel and the real-life experiences we are in. It is why some people who are surrounded by others throughout the day—or who are in a long-term relationship and married—still experience a deep and pervasive loneliness.
Studies had shown that there are physical and mental repercussions to loneliness. These persistent feelings of loneliness can lead to mental health challenges like depression and physical health challenges like chronic pain, and in extreme cases, they may contribute to having suicidal thoughts or behaviors. In order to overcome loneliness, it is important to identify the root cause of the feeling, communicate those feelings with others, and practice self-care.
Loneliness can be overcomed, but it requires a conscious effort. In the long run, making those changes can make you happier, healthier, and enable you to impact others around you in a positive way.
Here are some ways to prevent loneliness:
- Consider community service or another activity that you enjoy. These situations present great opportunities to meet people and cultivate new friendships and social interactions. It will also give you a sense of value of your own life.
- Expect the best. Lonely people often perceive the worst of things. They expect rejection, so instead, try focusing on positive thoughts and attitudes in your social relationships.
- Join a group or start your own. For example, you can consider creating or taking a class at a community center, joining a book club, or taking an exercise class.
- Strengthen a current relationship. Building new connections are important, but improving your existing relationships can also be a great way to combat loneliness. Try calling a friend or family member you have not spoken to in a while.
- Talk to someone you trust. Reach out to someone in your life to talk about what you perceive as important to you or your life. This can be someone you know such as a family member, but you might also consider talking to your doctor or a therapist.
Loneliness can leave people feeling isolated and disconnected from others. It is a complex state of the mind that can be caused by life changes, mental health conditions, poor self-esteem, and personality traits. Loneliness can also lead to serious health consequences including decreased mental wellness and physical problems.
At SACAC Counselling, we have a group of professional therapists that can help you cope, and live a fulfilling life. You should seek help for your loneliness:
- If feelings of loneliness are accompanied by persistent or worsening depressive symptoms, fatigue, and other mood-related symptoms that prevent you from functioning in your everyday life.
- If you are having negative thoughts about yourself that are self-hating or self-punishing.
- If at any point you’re having suicidal thoughts or urges.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist