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Overcoming Loneliness

"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."

The above quote by Helen Keller highlights how healthy social connections are an indispensable part of human life. Loneliness is an unpleasant and uncomfortable feeling where one craves human contact and connection. It is a state of mind and a universal human emotion, as all of us face some degree of loneliness at some point in our lives.

Loneliness can be emotionally exhausting and make one question their very existence. It can also lead to anxiety, stress, depression, body pains, heart conditions, sleep-related issues, dementia, etc.

Loneliness is not the same as being alone, as you could have many close people around you but still feel lonely. Depression symptoms, being an introvert, inefficient social skills, or social anxiety are factors that can add to loneliness.

There can be many reasons why one feels lonely. For example, a college student might feel lonely when they are unable to 'fit in' with a certain friend group. Someone who has lost a partner recently will feel lonely as they grieve the loss of a close connection. The elderly may feel lonely when their children move away from their homes to different geographic locations.

If you are feeling lonely or disconnected, here are a few ways you could make a conscious effort to make yourself feel happier:

  • Volunteering or Community Service: Supporting a cause that you deeply believe in and feel for can be a great way to meet like-minded people and also give you the 'feel-good' factor.

  • Follow Your Hobbies and Interests: Joining an art class, yoga class, runners group, etc., will help you make new connections with those who pursue similar interests.

  • Connecting with Loved Ones: When we are physically away from our family and close friends due to higher academic opportunities or work reasons, staying connected through frequent phone or video calls can keep loneliness away.

  • Support Groups: In recent times, loneliness has been widely accepted as a condition of mental distress that affects many. Joining online or offline support groups where people with similar concerns come together, share their experiences, and discuss how to manage it better gives a safe space to express your feelings.

  • Self-Compassion: Don't blame yourself for your loneliness by negative self-talk. It is critical to practice self-kindness in difficult times.

  • Reach Out for Help: It would be great to open up about your feelings to a trusted close friend or family member. You could even consider talking to a therapist about your loneliness.

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