Being alone ain’t the same as being lonely.
Several years ago, I remember being at a conference for single adults. During one of the sessions, a speaker discussed the difference between being “alone” and “lonely”. A lot of people are not in a long term relationship, so they are alone, but not everyone who is alone is lonely. There’s a difference. Being alone means that one is imply by themselves but being “lonely” refers to being a state of mind. It is defined as “sad because one has no friends or company.” Have you ever felt this way before?
According to this article from 2020, in 2019, three out of five Americans reported feeling lonely. In a group of one hundred people, sixty felt lonely. That is a HIGH number. And, I would like to know what those statistics are after we have experienced what we have with COVID in the last year.
These statistics show that loneliness is something that people are struggling with. Another interesting find is that more men than women reported feeling lonely; 63% of men compared to 58%. And a lot of people who were heavy users on social media, 73% to exact, reported feeling lonely! WOW!
People have a strong desire to feel connected to others. Another interesting find is that there is a connection between loneliness and physical illness. In fact, the more lonely a person felt, the more they were likely to have a physical illness or miss time off from work.
I forgot to mention that being in a relationship does not always mean that a person feels connected. And, not being in a relationship does not mean that a person feels lonely. Loneliness is a state of mind. It is a feeling. And if you know anything about feelings, they are not always a true reflection of what is going on.
What are some reasons that people feel lonely?
- Mental illness. A mental illness is a condition that impacts how an individuals perceives the world, thinks, feels and behave. When it comes to mental illness, our mind is playing tricks on us. A lot of people who have mental illness become very self conscious about how others see them.
- Disability. Having a disability can cause a person to think that they are alone.
- Racism. Dealing with preconceived perceptions of others.
- Caregiving. Having to care for a family member is a very difficult job and can lead to feelings of loneliness.
- Being single. Depending on what age group a person is in, not having a significant other can make a person feel like they are alone.
- Not fitting in. There are some people who notice that they are different from others. There are other people who know that they don’t fit in with others. Its like being a Ms Celie in a Shug Avery world for some people. That feeling can lead to loneliness.
- Feeling distant from family or friends. Not being able to be around family or friends can lead to feelings of loneliness. I am sure during this last year, having to be away from family and friends has led a lot of people to feeling lonely.
There are many reasons why people feel lonely. And again, having to stay in the house during COVID-19 was more harmful than helpful for a lot pf people.
Ways to deal with loneliness:
- Acknowledge what you are feeling. Sometimes when we are experiencing uncomfortable emotions, we try to tell ourselves that its not that bad. However, it is important that we validate ourselves and comfort ourselves during those times.
- Find a companion. Go get a pet fish, dog, cat, rabbit or a plant. Yes, a plant! Taking care of something is one of the best ways to deal with loneliness.
- Create a routine. Get into a good groove. Exercising, having a set schedule and consistency is one of the best ways to deal with loneliness.
- Reach out to someone. If you are feeling lonely, it can be tempting to get into a woe is me mindset. Instead of giving into those negative and depressing thoughts, reach out to someone. If you reach out to someone, that person will be glad to hear you and you will feel better about you.
- Find ways to connect with others. Get out the house. Join a small group. Go to the park. Go to the store and talk to someone. Finding creative ways to connect with others is a good way to deal with loneliness.
- Imagine the support system that you would like to have. Think about what you need from a support system. Think about what this experience would be like for you. When we can condition our mind to believe that we can have something, then we can obtain it.
If anyone you know is dealing with loneliness, feel free to share this blog post with them.
If you found any of these to be helpful, please let me know.
“It’s the Loneliness for me” first appeared at https://itstashascorner.com/?p=1869 on July 9, 2021.