Recent research states that loneliness is a disease – just like obesity. In fact, a lonely person is more likely to suffer than an obese person. When a person feels lonely, he feels depressed and stressed. This leads to increase in the secretion of cortisol, the stress hormone. When a person harbours feelings of loneliness for a long time, his longevity is reduced. Loneliness shortens the life span.
Some of the probable causes of loneliness:
- Bitter experiences or harsh parenting in childhood.
- Lack of confidence and a feeling of worthlessness.
- A pessimistic outlook.
- A feeling of inferiority and a general dislike for socialising.
Let us look at some of the symptoms of loneliness:
- A feeling that life is harsh only to the sufferer and that all others are leading fairly good lives.
- Avoiding conversations and eye contact.
- Forgetting to smile.
- A mental block that the person is not of use to anyone in the world and so, everyone is avoiding the person.
There are a number of remedies for loneliness. Follow these to address the problem and get out of it at the earliest.
- Now-a-days, social networking sites have made it very easy to revive friendships.
- There may be atleast a few friends whom you would like to renew your contacts with.
- Make the first move. Chat, mail or phone the friend and talk with them.
- The talk need not be about your problems. It can be anything under the sun.
- Friendship fosters hope and a feeling of well-being. It helps to understand the world better.
- Even if you do not feel like it, involve in some sporting activity.
- Join a walking group or enrol for a group Zumba work-out.
- When a lonely person takes the first step to get involved in a group activity, it spurs him to open up.
- By regularly involving in any one of these activities, the person makes new friendships and learns a lot about the others’ problems.
- Gradually, he can get rid of loneliness.
- Involve in any social cause.
- Many people, especially retired ones, miss out on their earlier active days. They sit and brood about the bygone days and develop feelings of loneliness.
- Involving in charitable activities may not be financially rewarding but definitely, it would be emotionally rewarding.
- When a lonely person involves himself in such social causes, he learns to sympathise and empathise with the lesser privileged people of the society. This would help him understand his own problems in a better way.
- He gets a new purpose in life and hence the feelings of loneliness get obliterated.
- If you are living alone, consider moving into community living homes.
- A number of senior citizens are opting to live in old age homes instead of living on their own, alone, to avoid feelings of loneliness.
- When you are part of a community, try and contribute, even if it is very little, for the welfare of the members of the community.
- This helps in countering loneliness and depression.
Reading, Music, Meditation:
- Whenever you feel lonely, take a book and start reading it. In the beginning, you may not even feel like reading. But please persist for reading is very enriching and rewarding. It takes you to a different world.
- To make a beginning, buy humorous and light reads as these can keep your interest sustained.
- This is true for music also. Listen to soothing music whenever you feel depressed. It is even a good idea to start learning music.
- Try to meditate for at least ten minutes in a day. During these ten minutes, fill your mind with positive affirmations.