Loneliness the poverty of self
It is the time of year whereby many of us feel lonely. We can feel lonely for many different reasons and although being lonely is not in itself a mental health problem, it can be a symptom of an issue you may be experiencing such as anxiety or depression. So what constitutes loneliness and how should we cope with it?
Consider your social needs
Everybody has unique social needs and therefore requires different levels of social interaction in order to feel a sense of contentment and happiness. You may be somebody with vast amounts of friends and a love of occasions and parties or you may be somebody with a few trusted people in your life and a sense of contentment in your own company (which incidentally, is equally important).
If you feel entirely comfortable and satisfied in your own space then that is a great attribute and demonstrates a strong and healthy connection with your inner self. However if you find that you are alone and feeling low, thus lonely, it may be worth considering that your levels of social interaction could be improved.
It is possible to feel lonely in a crowded room
Even if we are surrounded by a lot of people, it is possible to feel lonely because you do not feel understood or cared for. This could be true of an existing family dynamic or a group of friends that you have known for a long time. The point being that loneliness is often an indicator that you are lacking a sense of feeling nurtured or valued.
When life feels to be a struggle, it is a common response to want to isolate yourself from loved ones. It can be helpful to think of loneliness like being thirsty. Just as your body creates a response that communicates to you a need for water, your sense of loneliness is your inner self indicating that you need to establish a stronger sense of social connection.
Making new connections with people may not be as easy as reaching for a glass of water, but it is absolutely possible for you, no matter how low you feel, to meet new people. Are there any interests or hobbies that you have that you could perhaps endeavour to join a club? Are there any invitations to events that currently reside upon the kitchen side table (or the bin!) that you could in fact attend? Volunteering is another great way to meet people whilst also helping those in need.
Be mindful that there is no rush and it is important that you approach your solutions to loneliness in your own way, at your own pace. If you find that you lack confidence in meeting new people, have patience with yourself. For the moment, take some time to consider what possibilities are open to you. To get yourself started, you could develop your confidence levels by taking yourself to the cinema or to a café on your own, just to test your nerve and to experience what it is like to be out and about in a social environment on your own.
You might find that you have already established enough connections, however, you are not fully open with the existing people in your life. Take a moment to consider as to whether you confide in your friends or family members as to personal matters? Are there ways in which you could improve the bonds of your existing relationships?
Prioritising your self-care is essential. Consider how you are feeling and how that is impacting your current everyday life. Are you sleeping normally? How are your eating patterns? Do you manage to exercise regularly? What would you say your stress levels are on a scale of one to ten? It might be that there are certain life style changes that you can make in order to enhance your general well-being and boost your overall mood.
Given that our self-worth is often linked to the perceptions of others and indeed the connections that we share with others, a big question to ask is how do you feel about yourself? Can you list five personal and positive attributes or character traits that you are proud of? If this proves difficult, it may be worth seeking support from a counsellor. The counselling process can help you to improve the way that you see and indeed value yourself, so that you are no longer dependent upon the ways that others both see and value you.
Often, when we feel low we do not feel worthy of connection. Should you feel that you are struggling and that your sense of loneliness is becoming worse, do not hesitate to seek help from a doctor or a mental health professional. Have courage and remember that there are avenues for support available to you.
Wishing you strength,