Loneliness is a universal state of mind which has a deep human need to connect. Since it does not have a single cause attached to it, the ways of dealing with loneliness differ from person to person. It does not mean necessarily being alone; people may surround an individual, yet one may experience loneliness. It is essential to understand the difference between solitude and loneliness. People can be alone and not feel lonely, or have people around them and still have feelings of isolation. The pain associated with loneliness might have severe consequences for health. An example of this is a child who feels lonely and does not have a friend to play with.
Teenage and Adulthood is a crucial time when you establish bonds based on trust and security. A teenager and an adult might feel lonely due to various reasons – loss of a loved one, feeling excluded from others, such as family and friends, or simply not connecting with people around them. It is the stage where they struggle socially, thus resulting in feelings of profound loneliness.
Many people experience loneliness in old age. Research done by John T Cacioppo & Stephanie Cacioppo (2013) shows that social isolation and loneliness are linked to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.
Conversely, people who engage in meaningful and productive activities with others tend to live longer, experience elevated moods, and have a sense of purpose. These activities seem to help maintain their well-being and may improve their cognitive function.
Strengthening existing relationships is one of the ways to deal with loneliness. Connecting to one supportive friend or family member would lessen the pain and motivate you to connect to more friends and work on the relationships. Practising self care and knowing yourself better definitely minimizes the feeling of loneliness. Indulging in activities that enhance our interests and make us content seems to provide us with a more vital purpose and helps us deal with other negative thoughts.