In our competition obsessed culture (in all its forms) it’s becoming harder for anyone to be content — alone or with others. We now consume the perfectly manufactured scenes of happy people on T.V. (which captures fantasy), and on social media (which captures a moment in time). We then assume that life should be comprised of a continuous series of such moments — where no one is ever alone, or lonely. However, while there are moments in time when life can be like that, it is not (and nor should it be) consistently that way.
It is downright normal, and sometimes okay, to periodically feel lonely — and to be alone. To this point, the process of personal introspection can add to our quality and appreciation of life — and the beautiful moments in time, that life periodically affords us. Further, being alone often allows us to reconnect with ourselves, and to temporarily take a break from the requirements of daily life (i.e. adhering to the socially constructed rules and cues that nicely holds our society in place, etc.).HOWEVER, there are instances when prolonged feelings of loneliness(from the inability to connect with others in a meaningful way) and isolation (from real or self-imposed conditions) can start to negatively impact our health.
For anyone trying to manage prolonged loneliness (which can mimic, but is NOT to be confused with depression), here are three things worth trying:
- Gain more insight about loneliness and how to cope! The website www.mind.org.uk offers up some tangible ideas for coping with loneliness.
- Join or start a social club or group! Visit www.meetup.com to find a like-minded group to do an activity with. This website (and the groups hosted) caters to people of all ages and persuasions. There is a large pool of groups to choose from (i.e. foodies, travel, movies, language, karaoke, camping, tea, photography, etc.).
- Join or start a peer support group! In a peer support group you can meet and speak with people who are managing concerns similar to your own (.i.e. diabetes, depression, loneliness, social anxiety, death/loss, workplace stress, addictions, etc.).
Other information (by other authors) related to this topic:
- Loneliness and social isolation are important health risks in the elderly (McMaster)
- Dealing with Loneliness and Shyness (www.HelpGuide.org)
- How Social Ties Can Save Your Life: A Cardiologist Explains (www.mindbodygreen.com)
- Campaign to End Loneliness (UK)
- Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Loneliness in Older Adults (Carnegie Mellon – YouTube Video)