Is Loneliness Killing You?
Updated: Jun 7
I'm sure you've heard of loneliness. It's the feeling that comes from being cut off from others. It can make you feel like you're missing out on something important (FOMO!). But did you know that loneliness could be killing your chances for happiness?
In fact, research suggests that loneliness is just as dangerous to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being obese. That's why it's so important to take steps now to reduce your feelings of isolation. Make time for friends and family members, volunteer at a nonprofit organisation or participate in activities that interest you (like painting classes).
What is Loneliness?
Loneliness is a feeling of isolation or being alone, even when you are surrounded by other people. It is a subjective feeling that can be caused by a variety of factors. These factors include social isolation, a lack of meaningful connections or relationships, and a lack of support or understanding from others.
While loneliness may be a feeling of isolation, it doesn't necessarily mean you're physically alone.
Loneliness can also be caused by physical distance from loved ones. This might occur when you're away at college and your family is still back home.
Loneliness can have a long-term impact on your health. A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that people who live alone are more likely to suffer from chronic loneliness than those who live with others.
Even though they may not realise it, lonely people tend to isolate themselves by keeping their interactions with others limited (for example: only talking to one friend instead of several).
lonely people can also tend to be less outgoing than other people because being open can expose them even further to rejection or judgment from strangers (or even friends). Isolating ourselves might seem like a good way for us all to protect ourselves from feeling hurt again down the road. Self-isolation, however, can actually end up hurting us more than anything else!
Why are People Lonely?
There are many reasons why people might feel lonely. Some common causes include a lack of social connections or a sense of isolation, a lack of meaningful relationships or social support, and feeling disconnected from others.
Additionally, certain life circumstances or situations, such as moving to a new place, experiencing a loss or trauma, or having a chronic illness, can contribute to feelings of loneliness.
In some cases, people may also feel lonely due to personal factors, such as low self-esteem or difficulties in communication.
If you're feeling lonely, it's important to remember that loneliness is a feeling. It doesn't mean you aren't loved or haven't made meaningful connections in your life. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
It's important to note that loneliness is a normal and common human experience, and it is possible to alleviate feelings of loneliness through building social connections, seeking support, and engaging in activities that bring meaning and joy to your life.
The fact that you feel lonely means that you are sensitive enough to recognise what it feels like when something is missing from your life. This sensitivity can be a great asset in helping you find ways to make yourself less lonely.
Negative Effects of Loneliness
If you're lonely, you may be at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Loneliness can lead to higher rates of stress and inflammation in your body, which in turn can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Stress has been shown to increase the production of cortisol, a hormone that helps fight infection but also increases blood pressure. Chronically high levels of cortisol have been tied to increased inflammation throughout the body, leading to chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes.
Inflammation is also associated with depression; it's not uncommon for people who experience loneliness or isolation to suffer from both mental illnesses like depression as well as physical ones like heart disease or diabetes.
Can Loneliness Affect your Mental Health?
Loneliness can have a significant impact on a person's mental health and well-being. Loneliness is a state of mind. It can contribute to depression, anxiety and social isolation by reinforcing negative thinking patterns.
If you're lonely, you may experience:
Depression: Loneliness can lead to feelings of sadness or low self-esteem that can develop into depression.
Anxiety: Feeling alone can also increase fears and worries about things that don't exist. It can also make it more difficult to cope with the real world.
Social isolation: In many cases, loneliness leads people to withdraw from others. often because they no longer want to be around other people after feeling rejected or ignored by them in the past. Being alone for long periods creates its own set of problems: lack of human interaction makes us feel less connected with others. A lack of social contact has been linked to increased mortality rates among older adults; while living alone without any support network increases one's chances for suicide attempts as well as death by cardiovascular disease (CDC).
It is important to recognise and address loneliness it if it becomes a persistent problem.
How Can We Reducing Loneliness?
When you find yourself feeling lonely, you can reduce this feeling by reaching out to others. You can do so in a number of ways, such as by volunteering or spending time with friends and family. Seek out social connections and activities, engaging in hobbies or activities that bring joy and purpose, and seeking professional help if the feeling persists and causes significant distress.
If reducing loneliness isn't enough, seek professional help from a psychologist who specialises in treating this condition. A trained mental health professional can offer strategies for improving your mood and reducing negative thinking patterns that may be contributing to feelings of isolation
How Do You Overcome Loneliness?
Loneliness can be a difficult and uncomfortable feeling, but there are things that you can try to help overcome it. Here are a few tips for overcoming loneliness:
Connect with others: Make an effort to reach out to friends and family and spend time with them. You could also try joining social clubs or groups that align with your interests.
Engage in activities: Participating in activities that you enjoy can help take your mind off of your loneliness and provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Practice self-care: Make time for activities that nourish your mind and body. This could include exercise, getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing.
Volunteer: Giving back to others through volunteer work can not only help you feel connected to your community, but also provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Seek professional help: If your loneliness is persistent and causing significant distress, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional. A therapist or counselor can work with you to identify the root causes of your loneliness and develop strategies to cope with it.
Remember, it's normal to feel lonely from time to time, but if your loneliness is persistent and causing significant distress, it's important to seek help.
Why is Connection Important for People?
Connection is important for people because it helps us feel connected to others, which can be a source of support, companionship, and a sense of belonging. When we feel connected to others, we may also feel more motivated, more confident, and more capable of tackling challenges. Connection can also help us feel more connected to our own emotions, values, and goals, which can help us live more authentic, fulfilling lives.
Connection can take many forms, such as relationships with family and friends, involvement in social or community groups, or even connections to our own inner selves through mindfulness and self-reflection. No matter what form it takes, connection can provide a sense of meaning and purpose, and can help us feel more resilient in the face of adversity.
Does Self-Compassion Help Reduce Loneliness
If you’re unable to reach out to others for whatever reason, then consider practicing self-compassion. It’s never too late to learn a new skill, and self-compassion is an extremely rewarding one.
Self-compassion is the ability to be kind and supportive towards yourself, even when you feel like it’s not deserved. If you find yourself feeling lonely, remember that you deserve love from others and from yourself. Self-compassion can be achieved through mindfulness and journaling. These techniques will help improve your mood and reduce negative thinking patterns that might contribute to feelings of loneliness.
A psychologist can help you reduce your sense of isolation by offering strategies for improving your mood and reducing negative thinking patterns.
A psychologist can help you reduce your sense of isolation by offering strategies for improving your mood and reducing negative thinking patterns. A psychologist will listen to you and help you identify the causes of your loneliness, and help you find ways to reduce it.
How Can a Psychologist Help with Loneliness?
Loneliness is a common and often distressing experience that can have a significant impact on a person's mental health and well-being. A psychologist can help address loneliness in a number of ways, including:
Identifying the causes of loneliness: A psychologist can work with you to understand the root causes of your loneliness. This might include exploring issues such as social isolation, relationship difficulties, or past experiences that have contributed to feelings of loneliness.
Providing support and understanding: A psychologist can provide a safe and supportive space for you to share your feelings and experiences. They can offer empathetic listening and help you feel understood and validated.
Teaching coping skills: A psychologist can teach you coping skills and strategies to manage your loneliness, such as practicing mindfulness, setting achievable goals, and finding ways to connect with others.
Helping you build social connections: A psychologist can help you identify and develop strategies for building social connections and relationships, which can be an important part of addressing loneliness.
Referring you to other resources: If your loneliness is related to specific issues or challenges, such as a lack of transportation or difficulty accessing social activities, a psychologist may be able to refer you to other resources or organizations that can help.
Overall, a psychologist can be a valuable resource for addressing loneliness and improving your mental health and well-being. If you are struggling with loneliness, consider seeking the help of a qualified mental health professional.
Loneliness is a serious health concern that can lead to depression and anxiety. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can take steps in your daily life to increase your sense of connection with others and reduce feelings of isolation. One of the best ways is by practicing self-compassion, which improves emotional regulation and increases empathy for others. In addition, spending time volunteering or connecting with loved ones helps you feel more confident about yourself and less isolated from others around you—especially if they are also feeling lonely!
Find a Psychologist
If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty, professional support is available. Contact iflow psychology today at 02 6061 1144 to schedule an appointment.
Flexible Counseling Options
iflow psychology offers in-person, telehealth, and telephone counselling services.
As registered psychologists, we provide compassionate support tailored to your needs. Take the first step in your journey towards well-being.
Medicare Rebates and Referrals
With a doctor's referral and Mental Health Plan, you may be eligible for Medicare rebates. Receive quality care while maximising your healthcare benefits. Let us be part of your path to healing.
Complete our simple enquiry form, and our friendly admin team will reach out to you during office hours. We are here to answer any questions and assist you in scheduling an appointment.
Visit iflow psychology in Leichhardt, Inner West Sydney, NSW, Australia for in-person consultations. We also provide convenient telehealth services, ensuring accessibility no matter your location.
The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. Prior to making any decisions, we recommend consulting your treating doctor, health professionals, and legal representatives. This is particularly important if you have health concerns, existing mental health or medical conditions, or if you feel you are not coping.
(c) 2023 Dean Harrison