Recognizing and Overcoming Loneliness

Recognizing and Overcoming Loneliness

To be a human is to need other people. But what about when you’re in a room full of people and feel more alone than ever? A life full of people or not, loneliness affects just about everyone at some point. When chronic or long-lasting, it can have serious implications for our mental and physical wellbeing. It’s important to understand that loneliness and being alone are not equivalent phrases. A certain amount of alone time is healthy and encouraged. Loneliness on the other hand, is a state of mind that stems from a lack of connection and feeling misunderstood.

Loneliness isn’t considered a mental health condition, but there’s no denying that the two are intimately linked. Mental health struggles leave us feeling lonely, and loneliness is damaging to our mental health. If left unaddressed for too long, this is a vicious and tiring cycle that leads to other problems, such as depressive disorders, substance abuse, suicidal ideation, and poor sleep. If you’re experiencing the extreme effects of loneliness, this is your reminder that help is available, and you’re not condemned to fighting this battle alone. We encourage you to reach out to loved ones, and professional help is always strongly encouraged. No one deserves to feel alone.

Hidden Signs of Loneliness

Tips for Managing Loneliness

Sit with your emotions

When we actively deny our feelings and block them from flowing through us, they manage to become even stronger. It’s scientifically proven that suppressing emotions creates physical and psychological stress on the mind body. The hard truth is, you might need to spend time sitting with and feeling your emotions. Acknowledge that you feel lonely and give yourself grace.

Connect with yourself

Chronic loneliness often points to a more concerning issue – being disconnected from ourselves. Maybe you’ve lost touch with who you are, or maybe you’ve suffered through trauma and never had a chance to meet yourself fully. It’s important to spend time building a relationship with yourself. This can be experimenting with different hobbies to find something you enjoy or creating a daily routine that adds fun and excitement to your day. We have to live with ourselves forever. Make it an enjoyable experience and something you look forward to.

Participate in meaningful activities

This is loneliness we’re talking about, and sometimes spending time alone and getting to know ourselves isn’t quite enough. Find a group activity that personally speaks to you. You could join an art class, exercise class, book club or anything else that interests you. Not only do group activities spark creativity and garner connection, but they also give you something to look forward to and they provide a sense of belonging. If that doesn’t sound right for you, volunteering for a meaningful cause might be a better option. Studies show that acts of kindness and being of service to others is linked to higher rates of health and wellbeing. It feels good to make other people (or animals) feel good!

Change your environment

Often, we can’t heal in the same place we feel broken. If you spend a lot of time in the same place every day, try going somewhere new. This doesn’t need to be complicated or grand. Something as simple as going to a new store or taking a walk in a new place can be enough to change the tone of your day.

Engage or disengage online

Learn your capacity for being in online spaces. Social media can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the day and where you’re at mentally. On occasion, it might be therapeutic to catch up with your friends or connect digitally through gaming or online chat sites. On the other hand, social media can contribute to loneliness and feeling isolated. If you find yourself feeling even worse when you’re on the phone, it might be time to detox from the screen and practice some other form of self-care.

Adopt a pet

While this may not be a logical option for everyone, adding a pet to the household can be beneficial for those in the right circumstances. Companionship prevents illness and adds years onto our lives. Pets make great companions, and you can trust that they’ll always be there to provide company. Being responsible for someone other than ourselves also cultivates self-trust and confidence. If getting a pet sounds like the right idea for you, be sure to choose one that suits your needs depending on your lifestyle.

Remember that you’re not alone

Loneliness is a universal experience. It can be extremely helpful to remember you aren’t alone in this feeling. Since the pandemic, feelings of loneliness have greatly increased. It’s beneficial to remember that loneliness is a normal experience, and it doesn’t last forever.

Seeking Professional Help

Since the root of loneliness is feeling misunderstood, talk therapy with a professional is never a bad idea. If you can find a therapist you connect to, this can stave off feelings of loneliness while also learning about yourself in the process.

Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.

Author
Dr. Michael Messina

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