Feeling loneliness and isolation is a normal part of life that everyone experiences. However, feeling lonely and isolated for a long period of time can affect your life.
According to a study by Brunel University for the BBC, the loneliest age cohort was 16 to 24. However, a significant portion of older individuals also reported regularly feeling isolated.
No matter your age, you should take steps to improve your mental well-being and connect with others. Being social and connecting with others can help you feel more fulfilled.
Take Time Off Work to Reduce Loneliness and Isolation
One of the leading reasons why you may be feeling alone is because of high levels of anxiety and stress. Since you spend most of your week at work, your anxiety is probably work related.
If you find yourself dreading getting up in the morning and hating your commute in, it’s a good idea to take some time off. Spend more time with your family, or reach out and connect with old friends. Alternatively, just take some time for yourself and watch a few movies.
A break in the constant grind can leave you feeling refreshed and able to jump back into life with a fresh perspective. It can also help you spend more time with the people you care about.
Join Social Groups and Find Activities Out of Work
As you grow older, it’s normal to feel lonely as your old friends move away or have less time because of jobs and children. This is particularly true for senior citizens who have had their own children move away to start their lives.
A good way to overcome this type of loneliness is to join new social groups. Taking up a hobby, whether it be a local music scene, board games, or playing pick-up sports, helps you break the ice with others and make new friends. Libraries and local organizations often host community events which make it much easier to connect with people as well.
Volunteering for a charitable cause or community event is another easy way to socialize. Since you’ll be busy working, there’s no awkward ice breakers to deal with, and you’ll have a shared experience to talk to other people about.
It’s important to remember that you should make an effort to be social, even if you don’t quite feel like it. Wallowing at home alone in feelings of isolation will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if you leave early, spending just a few hours with other people can raise your spirits and make you more excited about socializing with other people in the future.
If this isn’t an easy solution, you can also look into online communities. Talking to other people about things you are passionate about can help you feel less alone. Communities exist on social media platforms for everything under the sun, from birdwatching to woodworking.
Adopt a Pet
Interestingly, one of the best things that you can do to reduce feelings of isolation is to get a pet. A dog, cat or other animal in your home means that you are never really alone.
Additionally, pets rely on you for everything, which can help you set up a routine that can eliminate feelings of monotony and isolation from others. Pets also have a positive impact on your mental health.
Additionally, pets can help you socialize with other pet owners. Going to a dog park, to pet training, or talking to other people about their pets is a low-effort way to meet new people.
Evaluate Your Thought Process
It’s easy to fall into a negative spiral when you feel isolated. Don’t blame yourself if you feel lonely, and learn to spot negative thoughts as they start.
Realize that it is the loneliness speaking, not you, and the malaise you are feeling is a temporary thing. If you continue to think of yourself as lonely, you will accept that as fact, and won’t take steps to feel better – often without realizing it.
You may want to start keeping a journal so that you can nail down your thoughts and feelings in writing. Putting your interior thoughts into words makes it easier for you to see how you really feel, and then take steps to make yourself feel better.
Positive affirmation, including listing the things that you like about yourself or your favorite memories, can also help you feel less isolated.
Consider Talking About Your Feelings
While it is absolutely normal to feel lonely sometimes, you should be conscious that a chronic feeling of isolation can point to mental health issues. The most common problems that can arise from chronic loneliness include depression and sleep issues.
This doesn’t mean that you should give up hope, however. Often, talking through your feelings with a family member or close friend can help. You can also consider going to a therapist if you don’t want to open up to someone who you have a personal relationship with.
Take Concrete Steps to Feel Better
There’s no right answer when it comes to treating feelings of loneliness and isolation. Often, what will make you feel better is a combination of different activities and strategies. Whatever you decide, it’s important to remember that what you’re feeling is not permanent.
Following the above steps can help you make new connections and feel less lonely. For more information about how to treat chronic loneliness and isolation, contact us today.