The epidemic of loneliness - Deepstash

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7 Therapists on What to Do When You Feel Lonely

The epidemic of loneliness

The elderly are lonely. Teens are lonely. People in cities and rural areas are lonely to such an extent that it is considered a public health issue.

One report found that nearly half of respondents said they sometimes or always felt alone. But there are steps you can take when you're feeling especially lonely.

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Loneliness

It isn’t defined by the number of people in your life; instead, it’s the distance between what you want out of your relationships and what you’re getting.

So it’s absolutely possible t...

Make small talk

Have quick, non-threatening conversations throughout the day: make small talk with your barista, the cashier at the grocery store, anyone you encounter who seems receptive.

Think of them as stretching a muscle: not the same as a full workout, but beneficial nonetheless. When you’re lonely, you go inward, and just stretching that little bit can kick-start a process that helps you feel better.

Find a state of flow

Do something you find totally engaging, to the point you lose track of time.

That activity doesn’t have to be mentally engaging or intellectually rigorous. Maybe it’s reading, running, or cleaning. If you’re truly immersed in what you’re doing, no matter what it is, you won’t have the mental space to be consumed by loneliness.

Loneliness before quarantine

We crave intimacy. And yet, long before the present pandemic, with its forced isolation and social distancing, humans had begun building their own separate cells. 

Before modern times...

Loneliness is a form of grief

It is an umbrella term we use to cover for all sorts of things most people would rather not name and have no idea how to fix.
Plenty of people like to be alone. But solitude and seclusion are different from loneliness. Loneliness is a state of profound distress.

The evolutionary theory of loneliness

Primates need to belong to an intimate social group in order to survive; this is especially true for humans.
Separation from your group (either finding yourself alone or finding yourself among a group of people who do not know and understand you) triggers a fight-or-flight response.

Detecting Loneliness
Detecting Loneliness
  • Scientific literature has linked loneliness to depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and drug abuse.
  • Loneliness makes you more likely to fall ill by suppressing healthy immune function....
Loneliness is subjective

It's possible to be completely isolated and feel invigorated.

It is also possible to be surrounded by a crowd or be accompanied by close friends and feel lonely.

Research on loneliness findings
  • Research showed that after social isolation, subjects' brain scans showed more activity in the midbrain when shown pictures of social cues.
  • When subjects were hungry but had not been socially isolated, they showed a similar reaction to food cues, but not social ones. This shows that the drive for social contact and for things like food seems to be represented in a similar way.