Picture this. You’re in a room, surrounded by people. Yet, you feel totally alone. Does this sound familiar? Everyone experiences episodes of loneliness, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
With the COVID pandemic gripping the world, the prevalence of loneliness has worsened. In 2020, approximately 36% of Americans reported frequent feelings of loneliness. That’s 118.62 million people.
Loneliness and depression go hand in hand. Feeling lonely can significantly impact your mental health, increasing the risk of not just depression but anxiety, sleep disturbance, stress, and low self-esteem. It’s easy to lose hope when you’re lonely - but your situation is far from hopeless.
Online therapy offers a ray of sunshine on cloudy days. In fact, it enables the already-present sunlight to blast through the clouds, knocking them out of the way. You just need to take the first step: signing up.
How To Cope with Loneliness
It's a common belief that you shouldn’t feel lonely unless you have a reason to - a recent breakup, bereavement, relocation, redundancy, etc. But loneliness doesn’t need a reason. Sometimes it creeps in without any explanation.
It defeats logic - even when you're surrounded by close family and friends and tell yourself you "shouldn't" be lonely, loneliness can still take hold. Whether there’s an apparent reason for your loneliness or not, loneliness shouldn’t be ignored. It doesn’t go away; it only worsens.
Still wondering how to overcome loneliness? Here are some things you can do to recognize your loneliness and start dealing with it.
Begin to Understand Your Loneliness
Has there been an event that has triggered your feelings of loneliness? Or has it popped up as if out of nowhere? If there’s a simple solution to your loneliness, this step can help you identify what that is and work towards it.
If there’s no reason for your loneliness, at least now you know. And if you’re unsure, that’s ok too. Identifying that you’re feeling lonely is progress in itself.
Take Control of Your Happiness by Improving Wellbeing
There are 6 straightforward ways to take control of your happiness.
- Reduce stress: Exercise regularly and practice mindfulness. These are simple steps you can take to keep your stress levels in check.
- Have fun. Participate in activities that you find fun, such as rock climbing, cooking, or dancing around the house!
- Sleep! Sleep deprivation reduces your energy to interact socially, introducing feelings of loneliness. So prioritize shut-eye!
- Eat healthily. Fruit and veg are packed with vitamins and minerals that give you more energy and reduce feelings of sluggishness. Lower your fat, sugar, and salt intake, and you’ll be full of energy!
- Work on your self-esteem It’s easy to develop a negative internal voice when sad and lonely. Become aware of when you’re internally criticizing yourself, and turn the message into a positive one. For tips on coping with low self-esteem, click here.
- Reduce alcohol intake. There’s a strong link between feelings of loneliness and alcohol consumption. It’s tempting to reach for alcohol when feeling lonely, but alcohol intake can strengthen negative feelings, making you feel even worse!
- Speak to Someone. Loneliness shouldn’t be dealt with alone - this can leave you feeling lonelier! Start by talking to a close family member or friend; try reminiscing. Revisiting old memories can get you laughing again and remind you of your close relationship and your shared positive times.
How Do I Find Someone to Talk to?
Sometimes, talking to a friend or family member can seem too scary. Luckily, that isn’t the only option.
Join a Recreational Group
In our modern world full of opportunities, there are many groups for all kinds of recreational activities. All it takes is a quick internet search to find social groups that fit your interests.
If you love to read, join a book club! If cooking’s your thing, there are classes for that, too! If you want to get your gym gear on, go to an exercise class.
Engaging in an enjoyable activity can encourage social interaction. Plus, it’s always lovely to be around people with similar interests! This can form strong social bonds, giving you many people to talk to about your loneliness.
Find a Peer Support Group
A peer support group can be just what you need to manage your loneliness without bringing it to the attention of your close family and friends.
In a peer support group, you’ll find other people in a similar situation to yourself. This is both liberating and the perfect opportunity for positive social interaction.
There’s no better way to deal with loneliness than speaking to someone trained for precisely that job. Therapy is a great way to overcome loneliness; your therapist will provide a safe, non-judgmental space, allowing you to explore the feelings of loneliness.
It doesn’t just tackle loneliness either - you’ll explore other emotional difficulties like anxiety and depression, too.
What is Therapy for Loneliness?
There are two main types of loneliness: chronic loneliness and transient loneliness. Chronic loneliness doesn’t leave you alone - you’re in a persistent state of loneliness that feels inescapable.
Loneliness can still ebb and flow with chronic loneliness - sometimes it’s present with extreme clarity, other times it’s sitting in the background.
With transient loneliness, the lonely feelings are often brought on by a sudden event or experience. Loneliness is felt for a brief time, and then it dissipates.
Counseling can be used to treat both chronic and transient loneliness.
There are several types of therapy you can try, one of them is Individual therapy.
Individual therapy may use psychodynamic theory, a concept focusing on the impact of childhood, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is a short-term therapy treatment targeting behaviors in the here and now.
You’ll sit in a 1-1 setting with your therapist and work through what’s troubling you.
Individual therapy is the more traditional therapeutic approach. However, group therapy is a worthy alternative. It makes sense to surround yourself with people as you're coping with loneliness.
Group therapy does just that. It provides a safe, therapeutic space to discuss your loneliness with other people while a therapist is present.
A New Option - Online Therapy for Loneliness
When we discuss therapy, most people assume we’re talking about in-person counseling. But it’s not always feasible, both financially and logistically. Nowadays, there’s a new kid on the block: online therapy.
It can be tricky funding in-person therapy and organizing transport. It may be challenging to find a time that suits you. If you suffer from a disability, in-person therapy may not be an option! Or maybe you simply prefer discussing your loneliness via messages.
Whatever the case, online counseling could be the best option for you. It provides mental health support wherever you want, whenever you want.
With DoMental, seeking online mental health support has never been easier. All it takes is signing up. To get started, you enter your personal details and answer some questions about your general mood and why you’re seeking therapy.
Then, a therapist will be matched to you! They’ll get in contact with you, and you can work out the details from there! They’ll touch base with you at least twice daily, and you have the freedom to contact them at any hour of the day.
You are Not Alone
Loneliness is becoming increasingly common in our everyday lives. Showing up in over ⅓ of the US population, loneliness has a shocking impact across America. But many things can be done to stave off loneliness.
By understanding your loneliness, you can start taking action. Making healthier lifestyle choices, boosting your self-esteem, and having fun are all things you can do today.
When you feel cut off from others, talking about your loneliness can remind you of the strength of your social relationships. Seek support from a friend or family member, or reach out to a local group.
Therapy helps you deal with other emotional difficulties alongside your loneliness in the company and support of a fully-trained professional. Online therapy increases the accessibility of mental health support.
With a little bit of effort, everyone can overcome loneliness and feel connected to those around them. All it takes is one straightforward step: signing up to online counseling.
Sign up with DoMental today.