Today i want us to discuss a topic i captioned “Loneliness: Learn to Identify and Uproot it from your life”. I remembered the Akon song “Lonely” and how big a hit it was. As i progressed in my psychotherapy practice, i understood why. It was a song that reeked of vulnerability. A song that lauded a side none of us really want to display for fear of being seen as needy.
Loneliness is a feeling I have discovered many people struggle with but may never own up to. This is because for many, there’s a neediness and weakness they feel when they agree to feeling lonely.
Over the years I have seen many men and women deny this feeling to their own detriment but have also seen many who accepted it and miraculously overcame most of the other related issues such as shyness, lack of a social life etc. Never be deceived into believing that having people around you is the cure for loneliness because it is not. I’ve seen many lonely husbands, wives, celebrities etc. to know that having many people around you sometimes could be the very reason feelings of loneliness engulf you. Please stay with me for 7 minutes as I show you ways to fight this elusively subtle yet negative emotion.
That negative feeling experienced when your need for social connections are not met is what I describe as Loneliness. Although loneliness is not a mental health condition, It can still affect your mental and general wellbeing. Does spending time alone mean I’m lonely? This is a question I get asked every now and then. Of course not is my answer. Spending time alone if utilized real well can help us relax or rejuvenate our energy reserves. Always remember that there is a huge difference between “Aloneness” and “Loneliness”.
Reasons People Could become Lonely
There are many reasons people around us are experiencing loneliness. This list may not be exhaustive but it covers some of the reasons:
– A change from familiar environments (School, job, home etc)
– Working from home (this became one of the top reasons since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic)
– Moving to new cities
– Newly wed into a family where they do not know everyone
– The end of a relationship
– Moving out of home and living alone for the very first time
– Changing circles of friends
– Spending time with couples and families while single could sometimes trigger loneliness
– Existing mental and physical health issue
Social Life & Loneliness
Trying to get used to very new situations sometimes helps with battling loneliness but because most lonely people never want to agree to its existence, it’s harder to fight. In the world we live in today, there are many connections we have that have little or no meaning at all. Social media though with its many uses has constituted a menace in this regard. We see individuals with thousands of followers, connections but yet feeling very lonely. This is because these relationships are merely superficial and lack depth.
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Symptoms which point to loneliness
Clients who have battled regular or chronic loneliness struggle with some particular symptoms. These symptoms if not properly checked always lead to far more serious mental or physical health conditions.
– Insomnia or sleep that’s constantly interrupted
– Unexplainable body aches and pains
– A tendency to abuse substances
– An inability to focus
– Feelings of inadequacy and a poor sense of worth
– Poor appetite or an overall decreased craving for food
– Excessive shopping, craving for physical warmth or partying
– A need to cover up in warm or cozy blankets
Loneliness has been linked to other health conditions such as depression, emotional distress, poor sleep, stress etc. Even though it isn’t a diagnosable condition, I believe there are certain lifestyle changes and ways to battle loneliness.
While loneliness may not be a diagnosable condition, you can still get help dealing with feelings of loneliness. I would love to mention that identifying and dealing with the root cause of loneliness is more important than dealing with the feeling.
Therapy helps when you are lonely without really knowing why. Speaking to a professional therapist will help you narrow down to the possible causes of your loneliness.
Practical Lifestyle Tips to Help You Fight Loneliness
If the root cause of your loneliness is a mental health issue, these tips may not fully help. However, these are a very good place to begin your quest towards getting the help you need:
Pick up a New Hobby: Is there a hobby you have always wanted to get involved with? Like painting, learning a new language, playing the piano or something else? Immersing yourself in learning or beginning always helps.
Get a Pet: When you introduce a pet to your life, it gives you an opportunity to connect with your world in a different and fuller way. You are forced to step outside of yourself and shower care on the pet. For other pets which you can take on walks, this increases the opportunity to meet new people and forge new relationships.
Don’t Seclude Yourself, Communicate & Socialize: Reaching out to family members via video or phone calls helps you remember that there are still loved ones who care for you. With the advent of technology and onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has consistently been a decline in the quality of human interactions. Everything from food to baby powder can now be dropped off at our doorstep but can never replace the need for real human interaction. Make it a rule of thumb weekly/monthly to at least go out to the market, store, spa or an outing. This helps you meet people and socialize.
Lend a Hand Somewhere: The first step with this is to discover what you are passionate about. Once you’ve ascertained this, quickly make out some time and volunteer towards helping others. This singular act helps you move outside of yourself and be of help to some other people.
Considering everything we have discussed about loneliness, I still believe there are days when this feeling just creeps up on us. On days like this, here are some great ways which have proven to be useful for both myself and others.
– Understand that time spent alone is also valuable and nothing to be afraid of
– Immerse yourself in positive and healthy activities
– Try and enjoy your time outside as this helps improve your mood.
On a closing note, I’ve heard many people tell me that loneliness is something they feel in passing while others feel this for weeks, months or even years. I’d like to reiterate that loneliness isn’t a mental health condition but a feeling that could signal the onset or existence of a mental health condition. I find that it’s harder for individuals who are introverted or shy to deal with this. Regardless, with all the points mentioned above, it is very possible to beat loneliness and forge new meaningful relationships. I hope this piece on “Loneliness: Learn to Identify and Uproot it from your life” would help someone out there battle this very subtle enemy. I would love to get any feedback you might have on my email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Obike Temple.
A licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker and psychotherapist who has counseled over four-hundred clients comprising of couples, individuals, substance, sexual or physical abuse victims and grief-stricken clients. He runs his private psychotherapy & counseling practice in Lagos, Abuja,Port-Harcourt with options for both online and on-site services..