Recognize the impact of loneliness

Recognize the impact of loneliness

According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, loneliness can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It is also associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and blood pressure, as well as dementia 

Having healthy social networks can decrease the risk of mortality and of developing diseases, as well as helping people recover when they are ill. 

Recognizing the impact loneliness could have on you is the first step to tackling it.

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The mental health charity Mind cites two main factors that can cause loneliness: 
  • someone either not having enough basic social contact or, 
  • despite being surrounded by people, not feeling understood, listened to or cared for. 
Working out which profile fits you best could give you a better idea of how to work through your feelings of loneliness.
Increase meaningful social contact

Some research suggests that who you spend your time with matters, too. 

One study in 2011 found that elderly people who spent time with family were less lonely than those attending social groups with strangers. 

Learning to enjoy time on your own can be just as important as a good social life. 

Fill your time with hobbies that interest you and appreciate the pleasure that these things give you. 

One 2010 study found that approaches designed to change "maladaptive thinking” – such as negative beliefs or black and white thinking – were, on average, four times more effective than any other kind of approach. 

Attending CBT might be a good start, the study authors suggest, so perhaps consider speaking with a therapist.

Spending time online obviously cannot replace all your real-life interactions, but it can help.

However, the research found a link between loneliness and time spent online, so it is important to supplement online chats with actual meetups, too.

  • Talk to friends and family.
  • Join a club or socialize through hobbies or interests. It is a good way to meet new people and increase social interactions. 
  • Do voluntary work. It forges connections as well as makes you feel worthwhile.

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RELATED IDEAS

Loneliness Is a State of Mind

Loneliness, according to many experts, is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, if you feel alone and isolated, then that is how loneliness plays into your state of mind.

For example, a college freshman might feel lonely despite being surrounded by roommates and other peers.

The Health Consequences of Loneliness

verywellmind.com

Why you need friends

Friendship helps protect the brain and body from stress, anxiety and depression. Being around trusted others, in essence, signals safety and security,

Research suggests that you only need between four and five close pals. Close friends should be someone you can talk to, someone you can depend upon and someone you can enjoy.

How to Make Friends as an Adult - and Why It's Important

time.com

A public health problem

Most people consider loneliness a personal problem to be figured out by individuals. 

However, a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health identified high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, disability, cognitive decline, and depression among the conditions affected by loneliness. What we have is a public health problem.

No emerging technology or drug exists on the horizon to cure loneliness. 

Understanding the Loneliness Epidemic

psychcentral.com

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