The History of Loneliness
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, very few human beings lived alone.
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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.
Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health, including:
Ventilen, or “friend to one” in Danish, is an organization that helps 15-to-25-year-olds get together twice a week with two or three volunteers. Together, the people in the group play games, make meals, go to the cinema, and build human connections.
Loneliness is becoming an "epidemic" and is associated with illnesses like heart disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, and longevity.
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.
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.
Talk to people you encounter throughout your day. When you enter a coffee shop, make a simple comment about the weather to make impersonal interactions a bit more friendly.
If you practice this small talk in a variety of situations, it's easier to start a conversation with people you want to get to know better.
Many people desire any company because they don't like the discomfort when they are alone.
Learn to enjoy your own company. Start by reading, watching TED Talks that will make you think, or start a gratitude journal.