FEELING LONELY? – LET’S FIX THAT
We’re all born with an innate need for connection and yet a staggering one-third of the global population identifies as lonely. Most of us understand the need to exercise and eat healthy to maintain our physical fitness, however we’re still playing catch-up with prioritising our social (mental) fitness.
A landmark study published in 2010 found that a lack of meaningful social connection is a bigger predictor of early death than either obesity and physical inactivity, and equally harmful as smoking and alcohol consumption. Long-term loneliness can also trigger depression and anxiety.
What Makes Us Feel Lonely?
While most of us experience some loneliness during our lifetime, prolonged negative feelings from emotional isolation can occur for many different reasons.
Using Social Media for Substitute Relationships
Seeking validation through social media by focusing on “friends”, likes, or followers is an empty relationship. Social media cannot replace genuine human relationships. If you’re going to use social media join groups / communities that encourage real connection based on shared interests and try to take regular breaks from social media by making time for “real life” connections and things you enjoy.
Being Too Busy to Prioritise Social Connections
In our busy world we’re constantly juggling work, family, chores, along with the new culture of “the side hustle” – it’s all too easy to lose ourselves in an endless to-do list. Before we know it, loneliness and burnout creep in. Make time for your significant other, family and friends. By investing time in giving and receiving love, friendship and intimacy – you’ll experience improved relationships, stronger connections, reduced stress and a heightened sense of self-worth.
Social Anxiety and A Fear of Rejection
Social anxiety usually stems from a fear of rejection which can have a huge impact your ability to create meaningful connections. Perhaps you’ve been bullied, had a bad social experience, or are simply shy. Whatever the reason just remember that rejection is something that EVERYONE must deal with. We can’t be all things to all people – nor do we need to be. Accept yourself for who you are. I love the mantra “I am more than enough”. A professional can help if you need to work through deeper issues or talk your feelings through with someone you trust.
Feeling Isolated Due to Personal Loss or Grief
Experiencing loss can be emotionally devastating, especially when others fail to fully comprehend your pain. Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace however it is during these moments that we often need the greatest emotional support. Consider confiding in a someone you trust or seeking out a support group. Talking with a compassionate professional can also profoundly aid in your healing journey.
Fears We Are Afraid to Share
Sometimes we can hold on to feelings of shame and guilt that can make it hard for us to make meaningful connections. These feelings can fuel false beliefs that we don’t deserve to be happy, we aren’t worthy of love, or that we aren’t good enough. We can also fear being judged by others. However, it’s important to realise we all experience moments of shame and guilt because we all make mistakes and others do too. By practicing forgiveness and self-compassion you can break free and release yourself of feelings that don’t serve you. Releasing feelings of guilt or shame through doing the inner work, either yourself or through therapy, can facilitate self-acceptance and help you move towards seeking healthy and fulfilling relationships.
TAKE ACTION AGAINST LONELINESS
We are all entitled to our emotions however we also have a responsibility to ourselves to heal and move forward. Below are some suggestions that may help you find relief from loneliness and improve your mental wellbeing.
Volunteering is a proven way to shift yourself towards a positive mindset. Contributing to a greater cause or helping someone in need can be profoundly fulfilling. Volunteering can offer you a sense of purpose, human connection, improved wellbeing, and greater life satisfaction. If you’re shy or find socialising hard, volunteering provides the perfect opportunity to meet new people without social pressure or expectations.
Ask Others How They Are Doing
So many people are hurting but in our own pain we can forget this. Asking others if they are okay is a simple but meaningful act that can be a positive gateway to creating new connections and friendships that provide mutual support and comfort.
Enjoy Your Own Company
While it might seem counterintuitive, enjoying your own company can make it easier for you to socialise. Find things you love to do that are just for you. When you’re comfortable with who you are, you’re less likely to care what others think and that kind of liberation makes social situations much easier.
The Blessing of Pets
The infinite unconditional love of a pet is something very special. The bond and connection felt with a beloved pet can bring so much happiness into your life. Their unwavering companionship and affection can have major benefits on your wellbeing.
Seek Professional Help
Seeking help from a professional can be beneficial if you’re experiencing persistent feelings of loneliness that negatively impact your lifestyle and wellbeing. Engaging in open conversations with a caring professional offers catharsis and allows you to delve into the deeper reasons for your feelings and beliefs. A professional can provide you with the guidance and healing you need to cultivate meaningful relationships and lead a more fulfilling life.
Long-lasting loneliness can erode our wellbeing and quality of life. Just as we prioritise our physical health, nurturing our social fitness is equally important. By taking proactive steps and actively seeking solutions, you can lead for a more connected, social and fulfilling life.
Farita Khambatta is a registered RTT (Rapid Transformational Therapy) Practitioner, certified hypnotherapist, wellness blogger, co-author of the Amazon best seller “Victim to Victory”, an Executive Contributor for the global digital publication Brainz Magazine and writer for various publications. She is also the owner of the successful online brand Goddess by Feritta.
After overcoming years of debilitating physical and emotional damage from the autoimmune condition Inflammatory Bowel Disease, she rebuilt her life. From bed-ridden to thriving, Farita’s passion is helping others discover the innate power and wisdom within to improve and transform their lives.