7 Tips to cope up with Loneliness
Human beings are social animals; gatherings, festivals, socializing, and mingling are the basic building blocks of our species. It enhances the quality of our lives, encourages personal growth, and promotes social and mental well-being but if you ask even the most extroverted and social person if they have ever felt lonely, they’ll have a story. Everyone has a story, stories for when they felt alone around five hundred people or alone in the confinements of their rooms. Loneliness is a perceived, subjective experience. It’s a universal feeling which comes and goes as we pass through the various stages of life, striking when you’re least expecting it.
Loneliness across life stages
The concept of loneliness in children is often overlooked because why would someone with loving parents, a lot of friends, and a perfectly comfortable social life feel lonely? But minor changes like transferring to a new school, language barriers, school performances, and alienation in school often lead to reclusive behaviour. Signs of loneliness in kids include withdrawal from activities, anger or lashing out, and reserved and quiet behaviour. Along with affecting their mental health, it takes a toll on their physical health as well.
Adolescents and young adults tend to be more sensitive to loneliness due to several life factors such as school transfers, career stress, lack of friends, being misunderstood, bullying, and an unstable household environment. Symptoms of loneliness stay consistent no matter what age they hit. Reserved behaviour, shyness, social withdrawal, low social skills, anxiety, overthinking, and even depression.
The notion of “FOMO” and the need for social connection makes them struggle at finding balance in their lives. Research indicates that 79% of Gen-Z are lonely. It is important to note that just because one is happy and extroverted on the outside, it does not mean they are well-content and not lonely from the inside.
On the other hand, Middle-aged people are burdened with responsibilities. Loneliness at this stage of life is due to factors such as work, career, maintaining a flow of income, providing for their families, and lack of time. The chances of chronic loneliness are higher during middle age. Whereas, among older people, loneliness comes from the loss of loved ones, chronic health conditions, lack of social life, and lack of friends. Loneliness in older adults may present itself in the form of changes or lack of communication with the caregivers, intense attachment with the caregiver, restlessness, moodiness, and lack of appetite.
Qualitative studies have pointed out a two-way relationship between loneliness and depression hence it’s important to acknowledge the problem as soon as possible and work on it.
Here are some tips for you if you’re coping with loneliness -
- Engage in activities that would allow you to interact with people who have similar and like-minded interests as you. College societies, clubs, or social organisations can be a good way to interact with like-minded people.
- Limit your time on social media. Public platforms are responsible for causing a lot of mental distress across all ages. Make more time for other profitable activities such as sports or reading.
- Seek help. Consider reaching out to friends, family, or counsellors when you feel the need. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength; willingness to fight.
- Improve communication skills and foster assertiveness. Often the thought of being judged and shunned from the group does not allow teens to open up and speak freely among peers. Communication skills can be improved through various activities such as active listening, tasks that require critical thinking, asking open-ended questions and taking part in activities such as debates and discussions.
- Join support groups. Many people are fighting this battle along with you and nothing is better than having someone who you can speak with freely and relate to.
- Activities that promote self-growth, self-confidence, and self-actualization should be prioritised. Online courses, reading, travelling, yoga, and meditation are some examples of activities that bring self-growth as well as peace.
- Keep yourself engaged in fruitful tasks. This will allow you to keep busy and end up overthinking things. It’s never too late to find a new hobby!
If you think someone you know is dealing with loneliness, here are some tips to help them through it-
- Your presence can be much more impactful than you know. Engage them in activities. Listen to what they have to say and make sure they are aware of your support.
- Create an emphatic and stress-free environment for them. Validate what they are feeling.
- Encourage them to seek therapy/counselling. It’s important to seek professional help before a slight case of loneliness becomes chronic.
- Make sure they are engaging in social and extracurricular activities. This can provide them an opportunity to grow bonds and experiences.
- Be patient.
To know more about 10 Tips to Reduce Feelings of Loneliness read here
To know more about Coping Mechanisms for Dealing with Loneliness read here