Loneliness is a physically and psychologically damaging state of mind—often confused with solitude or being alone. Just because someone is alone, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lonely. Loneliness is about you feeling isolated or lonely even with friends, while solitude is about you voluntarily spending your time alone, and choosing to socialize again whenever you feel like it.
Unfortunately, no one is safe from loneliness. It’s a common complex emotion that everyone experiences differently. While It’s not a mental health problem, it’s strongly linked to it as a symptom and can also be considered as a disease—more dangerous than smoking and obesity—in old age. In this article, you’ll learn more about loneliness and how to better handle it.
Signs of Loneliness
You often struggle to connect with others – Despite having family and friends, you don’t find your interactions with them fulfilling on a deeper level.
- You don’t recognize anyone as your best friend – You feel that you only have acquaintances and casual friends, but never someone you trust enough to consider as a best friend.
- You feel isolated everywhere – It doesn’t matter if you’re in a cheerful crowd or alone in a fragrant garden, it all feels the same to you—lonely.
- You have a low self-esteem – You have negative thoughts about yourself such as believing you’re not good enough, and you’re incapable of achieving anything.
Effects of Loneliness
Being lonely reduces the quality of your sleep. You experience waking up frequently at night compared to those who connect well with others; so it’s not about the duration of sleep but its efficiency. From an evolutionary perspective, people sleep soundly when they find their social environment safe and secure; so lonely individuals experience sleep disturbances because they don’t feel like so, which causes them to be more alert to possible threats.
You don’t feel motivated enough to consume healthy meals and spend time working out despite having the time and resources to do so. You often distract yourself through binge-watching (neglecting work and relationships), smoking and drinking excessively, and drug abuse, instead of confronting your negative emotions.
Physical and Mental Health Problems
A popular saying goes: No man is an island, and it exists with good reason—people rely on each other to thrive. Lonely individuals are at higher risk of having depression, poor immune system, and mild cognitive impairment to name a few. Again, loneliness is physically and psychologically damaging to your overall well-being especially in the long run.
Causes of Loneliness
Loneliness is a very complex and powerful emotion. Every single human who has ever lived has felt and experienced loneliness at least once in our lives. As complex and as powerful as this emotion is, the causes that can bring it about can remain the same from person to person. Here are some of the most common causes of loneliness.
Negative Life Experiences
- Physical and emotional traumas
- Substance abuse
- Attachment issues
- Constant criticism
- Neglect and abuse
- Early abandonment
Because there are common causes for loneliness, that also means the ways to deal with it are common as well. Loneliness is rampant but so are the people who have managed to get over them. If they managed to fend off loneliness, so will you.
How To Stop Feeling Lonely Even With Friends
At this point, you most likely already realize just how dangerous it actually is to give in to loneliness. Unfortunately, this can still persist regardless if you’re being surrounded by friends. Company in and of itself isn’t enough. There are still more things you need to do to fully combat feeling lonely even with friends. Take note of the following tips:
Remember that you’re not alone
It may not sound like it now, but you have to remember that you’re not alone in this endeavor. There are people out there who are feeling the same way as you. Better yet, there are people out there who are willing to help you out. You already have the privilege of having friends around you. Feel comfort with that fact.
Another thing you need to remember is that a lot of other people have also gone through the same thing you are, and a lot of them have made it out fine. That’s the key here. You can indeed make it out of that dark place. You will need to believe in that if it is to happen.
Get comfortable being alone
Another thing to remember you should remember is that sometimes, it is perfectly okay to feel alone. To be physically alone, even. Sometimes, you need to have moments for yourself. Time to think, meditate, assess your life, and think about your future. These things are better done alone. You need to be comfortable with that.
Of course, this isn’t to say you should just wallow by yourself all the time. What this simply means is that you need to value the time you spend by yourself instead of being afraid of it. Welcome them, even. That way, you will actually look forward to the time you’re going to spend with your friends and family.
Keep in touch with your family and friends
When you can, and when you’re feeling like the hour is at its darkest for you, reach out to your friends and family. While it is okay to be alone sometimes, be comfortable with it, even, when things become too unbearable for you, reach out. Having friends and family is a luxury not a lot of people have. Take advantage of yours if you have them.
It’s also very helpful to be open to the people you love and trust the most. Let them know what you’re going through and everything you’re feeling. Those who actually care about you will not hesitate to help you out. That is help you will sorely need if you want to stop feeling lonely even with friends.
Kindness goes a long way, not only to those around you, but to yourself as well. Be kind. Remember that. Whenever there is an opportunity to be indecent over an option to be good, always choose the latter. Helping others out and being kind does wonders to an individual’s mental health. Knowing you’re doing something good will also bring out a lot of positive emotions within you.
Having said that, find time to do volunteer work. If not, simply go out of your way to do good things for the people around you. Something as minor as giving a co-worker a cup of coffee in the morning, or greeting a stranger on the street already means a lot to the other person.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to take a step back and slow down. Meditate. Exercise. Do things for your mind and body. Hit the gym or take a yoga class. You’ll be surprised at how well those things can actually help you out.
When you’re alone at home, also take the time to learn and to practice meditation. This can also go hand-in-hand with the idea of you being comfortable with being alone. If you can combat loneliness with no one else around you, it will be much easier to do so when you’re surrounded by friends.
Work with a professional
When the going gets tough and nothing else seems to work anymore, seek out professional help. At the end of the day, the words and educated advice of a professional is always going to be helpful rather than just you figuring things out on your own. These professionals have studied and trained for years to help out individuals who are going through a dark time in their lives.
Find a professional near you and schedule an appointment as soon as you can when things begin to turn for the worst. While doing this, make sure you are also doing everything else you can to help yourself. Welcome the pieces of advice you will receive.
Find a hobby
Having a hobby and indulging them every once in a while is one of the best things you can do if you’re still feeling lonely, even with friends around. Hobbies and gratifying activities will do wonders for your mental health. Not to mention, it will also give you an opportunity to pick up a new skill or interest.
What’s even better is that if the hobby you happen to pick up on involves a group of people, that’s another opportunity for you to meet and make new friends. If the hobby is more isolated, you can still find and meet people who share the same interest. You can discuss the hobby among yourselves, you can learn from one another, all the while developing a personal bond. That’s something you’ll need to combat loneliness.
Get out of the house
Something as small and simple as getting out of the house is already very beneficial for you as someone who’s constantly feeling lonely even with friends around. While it is recommended you have time for yourself too, you will need to even things out by actually going out and seeing other people.
Go out there and experience things. Make memories. See your friends and family. Laugh, smile, converse, and enjoy.
Feeling lonely even with friends around is a very difficult situation to go through. It may be immensely difficult now, but trust me when I say things will get better if you want it to. Know that it can be better. Want it. Seek it out. Eventually, you actually will be better.
Make sure to nurture the friendships you currently have as you’re going through this whole ordeal. One of the more awful things that can happen here is losing a friend in the middle of this dark time. That said, take care of yourself as well. To yourself, you should be the person that matters most. Just follow the tips above and take all the time you need. This too shall pass. Good luck!