Did you know being alone and feeling lonely are not the same thing? People can experience loneliness even when surrounded by a lot of people.
In this article we explore what loneliness really is, who it impacts, and ways to overcome it (including how to reconnect with yourself and those around you).
WHAT IS LONELINESS?
“Loneliness is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation. Loneliness typically includes anxious feelings about a lack of connection or communication with other beings, both in the present and extending into the future…The causes of loneliness are varied and include social, mental, emotional, and physical factors.”
The two main types of loneliness are:
physically detached from social support due to geography, a mobility issue or other life circumstances.
a state of isolation where one may have a well-functioning social network but still feels emotionally separated from others. Emotional isolation also happens within intimate relationships.
WHO IS IMPACTED BY LONELINESS?
The stereotype is that loneliness would be most common among the elderly, however Forbes recently reported that loneliness affects epidemic proportions of people around the world. This includes single parents, people of any age who have lost their partner, people who are away from the home for work, unemployed people; even those who are incredibly wealthy.
In actual fact this silent suffering does not discriminate, affecting all races, age groups, socioeconomic statuses and genders.
The most surprising statistic is that in several studies, including the BBC’s The Loneliness Experiment that the 16 – 24 age bracket are experiencing loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group. The experiment revealed that of those surveyed, people who feel lonely have more ‘online only’ Facebook friends than real-life connections; and only a third believe that loneliness is about being on your own.
With the social media age enabling us to have instant contact and faux friendships, it appears that social media is not so social after all. Substituting real connections for online interactions is one of the leading contributors to loneliness in 2019.
According to an article published by ABC Life, as well as the factors already covered, those at risk of social exclusion also experience higher rates of loneliness (culturally diverse, LGBTIQ, people with a disability or mobility restriction; and those with mental health issues).
WHAT CAN I DO TO OVERCOME IT?
Just as there are many different people suffering from loneliness, there are many different ways to combat it. Another article published by ABC Life gives expert suggestions on reconnecting with yourself, and those around you (and we have shared these with you below):
- Understand and acknowledge your loneliness
- Don’t be afraid of small talk
- Don’t be afraid of showing the authentic you
- Seek treatment for underlying mental health issues
- Build relationships through listening
- Harness the power of technology for good
- Deal with the stress of putting yourself out there
- Join a special interest group
- Look out for the people in your community
To take a more detailed look at these steps please head to their article: Are you feeling lonely? Here are steps you can take
We trust that you have gained some useful insights into loneliness and the ways you can overcome it, please comment below if you have any other tips you’d like to share or any questions around what we have covered.
*If you are feeling overwhelmed with loneliness and need immediate help please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
For international mental health hotlines and helplines please refer to this website: cocoonais.com