Loneliness is defined as an unpleasant feeling caused by a difference between the level of social connectedness you have and the level of social connectedness you want for yourself. It does not necessarily have anything to do with the number of friends you have or whether you are in a relationship—people who have lots of friends and are in a relationship may still feel lonely oftentimes.
Being lonely can have a huge effect on your physical and mental health. Studies show that feelings of loneliness can increase the likelihood of being depressed and anxious, and can also increase your mortality risk. A study showed that the health risk of loneliness and social isolation is the same as the health risk of being obese.
There are a lot of things you can do to combat feelings of loneliness.
Get a pet. Animals provide social support and companionship, especially dogs. Nothing is better than coming home to a dog who could not be happier to see you. They provide love and support regardless of the circumstance. Animals are often prescribed to people to provide support and help relieve stress and anxiety.
Speak to a professional. It’s good to talk to friends and family about your problems, but sometimes you need an unbiased figure to provide some advice. If you don’t like your social life, then getting advice from a therapist or counselor can help you figure out what exactly you want.
Make sure you’re not depressed. When you’re depressed, you could have mistaken feelings of loneliness that are caused through brain disturbances. Talk to your doctor if you think you’re depressed, because you can’t treat loneliness caused by depression without treating the depression itself. Your doctor may prescribe you medication or refer you to some sort of talk therapy.
Try something new. Go and try that hobby that you’ve always wanted to try. It`s important to have new experiences, as learning new things increases self-esteem and gets you out there meeting new people. It doesn`t matter what you try, just try something!
Volunteer. If you`re able, volunteer somewhere, whether it be a soup kitchen or at a school. The positive human connection you get from volunteering may just make you feel overjoyed and happy.
Get off social media. Seeing a flood of couples on social media may make you feel lonely, so log off once in a while. It`s important to not compare the relationships you have to what you see on social media, and it’s important to know that people’s social media feeds are curated. What you see on Facebook isn`t necessarily how their life really is.
Everyone feels lonely at one point or another. What’s important is pulling yourself out of that dark place and surrounding yourself with human connection. Just remember that what you see of other people’s lives on social media isn’t accurate, and that you are most likely no worse off than anyone else.