Although our need to connect is innate, many of us often feel alone . Even some people who are surrounded by others during the day, or who are in a lasting marriage, still experience deep and penetrating loneliness. Feelings of loneliness and isolation affect all types and ages of people, although some, such as teenagers, are more likely to be affected. The elderly are also at high risk. Research indicates that more than 20% of people over the age of 60 frequently feel intensely lonely .
Suffering from loneliness is somewhat like suffering from physical pain: In one study, brain scans of lonely people who received a dose of Tylenol showed reduced activity in areas of the brain that process pain. In addition, loneliness can increase the fight or flight response, the physiological reaction that a person has when faced with a threat .
Can loneliness make you sick?
Feelings of isolation can have a serious detrimental effect on mental and physical health . Loneliness can be a risk factor for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, among other critical illnesses . Lonely people are also twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease .
Deep down, isolation compromises immunity, increases the production of stress hormones, and is detrimental to sleep . All of this fuels chronic inflammation, reducing immunity to the degree that lonely people suffer even more from the common cold. Loneliness can be a chronic stressful condition that ages the body and damages overall well-being.
Dealing with loneliness
Loneliness has both an emotional and a situational dimension . While both must be addressed to overcome loneliness and connect with others, the subjective perception of loneliness is often the dominant factor. People with only a few friends can be satisfied. People with large social networks can feel lonely. For this reason, it is important for those who experience loneliness to challenge their feelings and recognize the likely transience of those feelings, while taking concrete steps to strengthen connections with others .
It can be difficult to meet new people, especially for the elderly. But reaching out to close people, as well as weak ties on the social network, is a good start . Those experiencing acute loneliness can benefit from speaking with a mental health professional who can help tailor strategies for coping with and meeting others.
How to heal loneliness
Many of us feel lonely, but we never get to the roots of why , and how we might feel more connected to ourselves and to others. Here are some common fears that can keep us isolated.
- Fear of taking risks . If you think that you have to be perfect in everything, then you probably do not want to take risks not to show your imperfections. If you are afraid of failing and do not want others to think badly of you, you will prefer to be alone.
- Shame . If you do not want them to see the flaws in you or to create a bad image of you, then you will prefer to be alone to avoid painful emotions within you.
- The toxic shame . This feeling will make you feel bad and you will want to avoid it at any cost. You will be able not to approach others or hide your thoughts just for fear of other people’s judgment. You will not show yourself how you really are or even show your sense of humor for fear of what others will say, increasing your loneliness.
Life is not easy and it is necessary to take risks in order to live fully. In your life you will have acceptances and also rejections, some will like you and others will not like you, and that is fine, it is a normal part of life. You must know that life is full of criticism and in this way you will not feel blocked when others do not require your company. Increase your self-esteem by respecting yourself and treating yourself with dignity , whatever the circumstances you are currently experiencing. You have no control over how others see you, but you do have control over how you see yourself .
The fear of being vulnerable increases your loneliness
You don’t always have what you want and this doesn’t have to be something for you. Taking risks can help you have a chance for more satisfying relationships and fuller self-doubt. You have to have the courage to feel sad at times , but also to be able to bear shame or fear, all of this can help you learn and grow .
The good news is that you can have a better relationship with yourself through professional therapy . You can have a less lonely life by being a more resilient person. Resilience will help you find the strength to overcome adversity and say yes to yourself when others say no.
This requires realizing that what others think of you is not who you really are, others do not define you. You need self-love to achieve this and to be able to live well within yourself in this uncertain world. Show others that you feel good just the way you are .
Lets feel good
Attentive to this maxim: “The curious paradox is that when I can accept myself as I am, a friend of yourself, I can change.” The world can be a better place for you as you become friends with yourself and your life experiences . Trusting yourself is the best strategy to overcome loneliness, accepting that you can be vulnerable to others and that this can bring you benefits in the short and long term.
Extend your hand to others, even though you will not always be reciprocated. Moving towards people who may be receptive to you is the first step in overcoming loneliness. Most people feel lonely at times, and that’s not a bad thing . The important thing is to enjoy solitude and at the same time establish connections with others.