According to a study done by the National Science Foundation 1 in 4 people are feeling lonely. After surveying nearly 1,500 people nearly a quarter of them admitted to the researchers that they had, ‘Nobody to talk to’ and ‘Nobody to share news with’. Researchers went on to ask further questions to paint an even more stark reality. When these researchers asked their subjects to disregard family members when pondering loneliness more than half of them admitted that they had nobody there for them. Nobody to talk to. Nobody to rely upon. Loneliness, it seems, is an epidemic and one that is tearing our very society apart. Let’s ask ourselves, ‘Why do people feel lonely?’ and then dissect the problem to its core. Why does the world, in its most advanced age, suffer from this crippling problem?
You are not crazy for feeling so lonely.
As more and more research has surfaced to look into the facts around this lonely feeling it has become increasingly clear that nobody is immune. Feeling lonely and depressed strikes people young and old with little care for their social status or wealthy upbringing. In fact research by the AARP has shown that loneliness in adults has doubled since the early 1980’s. Many more people are feeling alone and asking how to deal with their issues. This is very important because feeling lonely isn’t just making us sad, it is killing us. It is true, those that routinely feel so lonely are suffering health related consequences. People are dying from this feeling of isolation.
What risks come with loneliness?
Feeling lonely is not just a psychological issue. Pretty soon this loneliness will manifest itself in a physical way. People that say, ‘I feel lonely’, are really telling you that they are fighting off what amounts to a physical attack on their body.
If asked what the two major causes of death and disease in America are many people would respond with obesity and smoking. According to research done by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, mortality rates are from loneliness are comparable to those that smoke. Loneliness is also twice as dangerous as obesity. Think about that for a moment: When you feel lonely you are twice as likely to die than a person who is morbidly obese. It’s scary. Here are other problems that coincide with loneliness:
- Loneliness leads to social isolation which in turn causes depression, anxiety, impaired immune function, and an increase in inflammation. These issues themselves can manifest a host of other problems that include arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Elderly people who suffer from loneliness and social isolation are twice as likely to die prematurely, according to Holt-Lunstad
Loneliness occurs in different sections of life.
Many people believe loneliness to be a symptom of some great social seclusion but the truth is quite different. Many folks will admit to feeling lonely after breakup issues, sure, but many others even start feeling lonely in marriage. Loneliness is a mental problem that manifests itself into physical symptoms. There is no easy way to avoid it as some are just more prone to the issue. Even young students admit to feeling lonely in college. Why are so many people suffering from what appears to be an easily remedied problem?
Why do I feel so lonely?
There are more people on Earth today than there have been at any point in human history. As the years have marched on the quality of our lives, as a whole, have increased. With airplanes, boats, and automobiles we are more physically connected than ever before. In first world countries you are rarely more than an airplane ticket away from anywhere you want to be. However, it is this technology that aids us that also does us in.
The internet, cell phones, and even home appliances have led to an increased amount of loneliness in people today. Those that ask us how to stop feeling lonely need only look at their daily routine. People who spend all of their time on social networking, like Facebook or Twitter, try to substitute real life interactions for digital interfaces. Other folks will rely on ordering food for delivery rather than risking going on the street. Still others will replace a text message with a phone call. The question we get asked so often, ‘Why do I feel lonely?’, is answered by the way that we live.
Here is what to do when you feel lonely.
I feel lonely in my relationship. I feel lonely and depressed. I feel alone around my family. These are all common cries from people suffering from a common affliction. Though the scenarios and context of their problems change, the root problem never does. There are a few clear cut ways to address loneliness when it afflicts you.
- Seek out a family member.
The majority of people who ‘felt lonely’ in the survey referenced at the opening of this document admitted that they had their family to rely on. Without their family loneliness more than doubled in the research. So upon feeling lonely, try to seek out family members to help alleviate your pain.
- Step away from digital platforms.
Social media platforms have replaced common interaction with friends and acquaintances. Why go to the bar to talk to your friends when you can hop onto Facebook and message them all instead? Why try to venture into the world when the digital platform is an easy, more comfortable, experience? A simple way how not to feel lonely involves simply unplugging. Turn off the computer. Quit bothering with your Facebook. Go out and meet these friends and acquaintances in a face to face environment.
- Take a walk.
The simplest way to deal with what to do when feeling lonely is to just take a walk. Taking a walk fixes several issues immediately. The first thing that changes is your environment. You won’t feel anchored to your room, or your apartment. The second thing that changes is you will experience other living people. The third thing that changes is that you will add fresh air, sunshine, and new smells to your senses. This can be a dramatic and health improving experience for those suffering from feeling lonely.
- Get a pet.
If you find that you routinely feel lonely and don’t have the means to change it dramatically in the near future then you should run through the idea of getting a pet. Having a living creature that loves you unconditionally and depends on you for food, comfort, and love can change your demeanor completely. Pets increase your own happiness while reducing your loneliness.
A final thought on loneliness.
How to not feel lonely begins and ends with addressing your problems head on. Many folks who suffer from feeling lonely will also be depressed, anxious, and reclusive. This cocktail of problems makes it hard for them to climb out of a seemingly endless hole. The truth is, however, that loneliness is a temporary problem in a world full of solutions. To feel lonely, and to stay that way, is to admit to your own defeat. Anyone who can address their loneliness can fix it by following the above steps.