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Seven ways to overcome 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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Seven ways to overcome loneliness

Seven ways to overcome loneliness

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/sep/23/seven-ways-overcome-loneliness-mental-health

theguardian.com

7

Key Ideas

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.

Work out exactly why you are lonely

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.

Speak to someone

  • 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.

Get online

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.

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. 

Change your thinking

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.

Learn to be OK in your own company

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. 

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Once you meet a potential future friend, invite them to do something. You have to put yourself out there.

It takes time

The process takes time, and you may experience false starts. Not everyone will want to put in the effort necessary to be a good friend.

Which is reason enough to nurture the friendships you already have–even those than span many miles. Start by scheduling a weekly phone call. 

Loneliness Is a State of Mind

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Causes
  • Loneliness is strongly connected to genetics. 
  • Situational variables, such as physical isolation, moving to a new location, divorce and the death of someone significant in a person's life can also lead to feelings of loneliness. 
  • Loneliness can be a symptom of a psychological disorder such as depression.
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Health Risks Associated With Loneliness

Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health, including:

  • Depression and suicide
  • Cardiovascular disease and stroke
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  • Decreased memory and learning
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Coming together

Back in 1999, a support group called Bright Point was formed to fill the need of friends. But when people came together, no one talked. It was only after games were introduced as a catalyst that friendships started forming. Later, making meals and exercising was added successfully.

The program is not without challenges. Many lonely people may feel intimidated and won't attend. But designating a space for gathering and activities is a good step toward tackling loneliness. 

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Don’t blame social media

Among the theories on why there is more loneliness today is more time online and less time in front of people. 

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Young and lonely

Generation Z (ages 18-22) had the highest loneliness scores, followed by the millennials (ages 23-37). The Greatest Generation (adults ages 72 and older) were the least lonely. 

Lonely people are less able to pick up on positive social stimuli, like others’ attention and commitment signals, so they withdraw prematurely – in many cases before they’re actually socially isolated.

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