Today, we are more connected than ever before, a click of a button and you have access to thousands of people with millions of thoughts, views and opinions. Yet, we are considered to be one of the loneliest generation.
Feeling lonely is uncomfortable, unpleasant, and absolutely normal! Everyone has felt lonely at some point in their lives.
The constant need for instant gratification, the fear of missing out, the need to fit in and stand out at the same time can be confusing and demanding.
In all of this chaos, it might get tricky to find your “tribe”. Suddenly all this connectivity we brag about becomes meaningless and you feel lonely amidst a sea of people.
Now is a good time as any, to discover what it means to be lonely and what you can do to feel a little better.
What does it mean to be lonely?
Loneliness and being alone are two very different things. Being alone simple means there is nobody else around you, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be alone. Being alone in moderation promotes creativity, self awareness and mindfulness. Being lonely refers to the feeling of isolation, the inability to make quality social connections or the feeling that nobody understands you or “get’s where you are coming from”.
Loneliness is a form of social disconnect that one feels when they only have superficial interactions that lack depth and meaning. Loneliness is known to have adverse health consequences.
Causes of Loneliness:
Lack of meaningful relationships: Sometimes, due to cultural differences, parenting styles, childhood trauma, disruption to your social circle etc. it becomes difficult to build relationships that are emotionally enriching. To be human is to be social, but the quality of these connections play a big role in sustaining your mental wellbeing and preventing you from feeling lonely.
Cultural: According to an article published in the Psychology press, migrants tend to suffer from loneliness due to missing their home culture. Studies show this effect can be especially strong for students from countries in Asia with a collective culture, when they come to study at universities in more individualist English speaking countries.
Relationship loss: Loneliness is a very common consequence of a breakup or death of a loved one. Dr.Vivek Murthy states that Loneliness can also occur due to the disruption to one's social circle, sometimes combined with home sickness which results from people moving away for work or education.
Internet: Boretta claims that excessive use of the internet, especially if passive, can increase loneliness. On the other hand, moderate use, especially by users who engage with others rather than just passively consume content, can increase social connection and reduce loneliness.
Genetics: In 2016, the first Genome - wide association study of loneliness found that the heredity of loneliness is about 14-27%
The above list is not exhaustive by any means
Tips to overcome loneliness:
You now know what it means to be lonely and what likely causes you to feel lonely, now it’s time to explore if there is something you can do about it.
The fortunate answer is Yes! It is as simple as finding your grounding routine.
Grounding routines are simple activities and physical tasks that are designed to distract you from negative, stressful thoughts by heightening your awareness of your current surroundings and helping you focus on things that are in your control.
There is no one perfect grounding routine to tackle loneliness. It varies based on personality types, cultures, situations etc but here is a list of a few grounding exercises to help you get started.
• Catch up with an old friend
• Join an online forum of like minded people
• Reconnect with family
• Community service
• Volunteer work
• Engage in an experiential activity
• Rekindle an old hobby
• Adopt a pet
• Read a book
• Start an online yoga session
• Go for walk in your local park
• Join a laughing club
• Sign up for an improv class
• Write how you feel in your journal
• Play a multiplayer online game