The Loneliness Epidemic: What Does It Mean to Be Lonely?

The Loneliness Epidemic: What Does It Mean to Be Lonely?

We’ve all heard the stories of movie stars being lonely despite their fame and fortune. Why are they lonely? They have everything they could possibly want, and it doesn’t seem to be enough. What does it mean to be lonely? The ability to ask this question is what separates us from other animals, so it’s natural that we struggle with loneliness as humans. And, in today’s digital world, loneliness seems to be more pervasive than ever before—we’re actually suffering from an epidemic of loneliness.

Loneliness is a Spectrum

The word lonely is often used incorrectly and loosely as if it were a feeling that everyone experiences. The reality is, loneliness is a spectrum. In other words, not everyone who is alone feeling lonely.

The Loneliness Epidemic: What Does It Mean to Be Lonely?
Photo: Lonely.

Some people prefer being by themselves over spending time with other people—and that’s perfectly okay. Feeling lonely when such needs aren’t being addressed is entirely acceptable. All people experience loneliness at some point in their lives.

Sometimes it results from our isolation from others; other times, we feel isolated even when we’re surrounded by others.

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Understand the Signs of Loneliness

If you’re feeling lonely, it’s important to understand that feeling isolated doesn’t mean you have a mental illness. Many people feel lonely at some point in their lives, and it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong with them. Some people even like the time they spend alone; others find it painful.

Whatever your feelings about your isolation, though, there are signs of loneliness you should look out for and be aware of. For example, if you start isolating yourself more than usual or withdrawing from friends and family members, these could be signs that loneliness is taking over your life.

You might also notice changes in your sleep patterns—if you’re sleeping more than usual or having trouble falling asleep at night, it could be because of loneliness. Finally, if you start experiencing changes in mood—like becoming sad or irritable without reason—it might also signal loneliness is getting worse. Signs That You’re Experiencing Loneliness Cope with loneliness by reaching out to loved ones: If you feel lonely, reach out to loved ones who care about you. Don’t try to deal with it on your own!

Recognize What You’re Feeling

Many people with chronic loneliness initially dismiss their feelings as inappropriate and try hard to get rid of them. But there’s no such thing as a normal amount of loneliness, so you shouldn’t be ashamed if you’re feeling lonely.

The first step in overcoming your loneliness is to recognize what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way. The following reasons for loneliness are not exhaustive; rather, they provide an insight into what might be causing your feelings of isolation.

Recognizing these factors can help you deal with loneliness more effectively. If you’re still struggling to understand your loneliness, ask yourself these questions: Why do I feel lonely? Am I alone because I’m always alone or because I’m afraid of being alone? Is my life moving forward or backward? Do I have goals for myself or am I stuck in a rut? Am I just trying to distract myself from something else going on in my life right now? Or am I too focused on other people’s lives instead of paying attention to my own happiness and needs? Am I blaming others for my loneliness when it’s really up to me to make things better? Are there underlying issues that need resolving before I can move past my loneliness?

Once you’ve answered these questions, take action by working through your feelings until they subside. Remember that loneliness is only temporary—it won’t last forever. And remember that even though it may feel like nobody cares about you at times, many people do care about you and want to see you happy. There are many ways to deal with loneliness and improve your social skills—it all depends on how willing you are to put in some effort.

Remove Yourself From Your Situation

A big reason why you’re alone might be that you have no one in your life with whom to socialize. That said, removing yourself from your situation doesn’t guarantee a solution. The first step is recognizing that being alone all of the time isn’t normal and likely isn’t healthy—even if it feels fine at first.

Lonely means different things to different people. Some people feel lonely when they lack meaningful relationships, others when they lack companionship or intimate contact, and still others when they don’t feel connected to others. No matter what loneliness looks like for you, it’s important to realize there are ways out of isolation besides solitude because feeling connected can make an enormous difference in overall happiness.

Set a Personal Goal

If you’ve never been a part of a group or haven’t made plans to hang out with friends lately, it can be scary. Although your personal goal may be simple, like joining a new club or getting dinner once a month with some acquaintances you haven’t seen in a while, it is still best if you follow these steps when facing your fear of loneliness. Set small goals and follow them.

The Loneliness Epidemic: What Does It Mean to Be Lonely?
Photo: Lonely But Determined.

There is no need to force yourself into friendships right off the bat. You will only make things worse for yourself if you try too hard too fast. Take it slow and steady! You will feel better about making socializing a part of your life again soon enough.

Reach Out To Others

Feeling lonely when such needs aren’t being addressed is entirely acceptable. All people experience loneliness at some point in their lives. Sometimes it results from our isolation from others. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others when you’re feeling isolated, because feeling lonely isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s just part of being human.

If you find yourself consistently feeling lonely, however, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or psychologist who can help you overcome your loneliness. If you’re experiencing feelings of loneliness on a regular basis, ask yourself why that might be happening and what can be done about it. Is there something preventing you from reaching out to others? Are you isolating yourself by choice or circumstance? Why are these feelings occurring now rather than before?

Break Down Your Goal Into Smaller Tasks

One of my favorite quotes is by Walt Disney, who said If you can dream it, you can do it. When tackling a big project or goal, I often find it helpful to break down that goal into smaller tasks. By breaking your larger goal into smaller tasks and then setting timelines for those tasks, you not only get an idea of what is involved in attaining that goal but also set yourself up for success.

After all, building something will always be more enjoyable and rewarding than dreaming about it. So, instead of thinking about how much work goes into achieving a goal like writing a book, think instead about how much time it would take to write one chapter per week. That might seem like less work—and it is! But if you’re able to successfully build on that small task over time, eventually you’ll have written an entire book! Title: The Best Way To Set Yourself Up For Success Is To Break Down Your Goals Into Smaller Tasks

Practice Gratitude

Feeling lonely when such needs aren’t being addressed is entirely acceptable. All people experience loneliness at some point in their lives. Sometimes it results from our isolation from others. However, studies show that people who practice gratitude are less likely to feel depressed or lonely, and more likely to be happy with life overall.

Gratitude helps put things into perspective, and as a result, reduces feelings of isolation and loneliness. Start by writing down five things you’re grateful for each day. You can do it on a piece of paper or on your computer—it doesn’t matter how you do it, just so long as you actually do it! Then go one step further by sharing your list with someone else.

This will help you open up about what’s going on inside your head and give you an opportunity to talk about what’s important to you.

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