Don’t let loneliness harm your health

A person who is alone may not be lonely. However, a person who is lonely might feel alone even when they are in the physical presence of others.

This means that loneliness is an emotional state where a person feels unsatisfied with the amount or quality of intimacy and social contact they receive and as a result, feel unwanted, unsupported or haunted by a feeling of constant unhappiness.

Loneliness has been linked to a number of mental health conditions and can affect either gender. Women have a tendency to experience depression while men often express loneliness as anger.

Symptoms of loneliness may be triggered by negative life events such grief due to the death of a loved one, divorce, separation from a child; stressful life events such as a job layoff, betrayal or court case; hormonal changes; rumination, painful memories or negative emotions.

If you strongly feel that your symptoms are not severe and don’t require a relationship counselling session at Counselling in Melbourne CBD practice, as you may try dealing with them on your own. Here is a list of good ways to deal with mild to moderate symptoms of loneliness:

  • Identify the reason

    A good way to start dealing with feelings of isolation and loneliness is to identify the root cause. Ask yourself, when and why do you feel lonely? How long have you been feeling this way? Are certain situations and people making you feel this way?

  • Differentiate between fact and feeling

    It is important to remember that loneliness is just a feeling and not a fact of life, and as such, it is modifiable. Feelings are subjective and mostly dependent on your present disposition, therefore, replacing an unpleasant thought or idea with a pleasant one often works.

  • Don’t sabotage yourself

    Don’t punish yourself for a momentary uncomfortable feeling. Feelings come and go.

  • Grow your social circle

    Research suggests that people often wrongly assume that they are not likeable or smart or that they lack the potential to succeed in a social setup. Give up these self-defeating assumptions and reach out to others. Chances are people would genuinely appreciate your friendly gesture and your social circle will grow within no time!

  • Adopt a pet

    Pets make great companions. They are loving, lovable and judgemental. New breakthroughs in mental health research suggest that it may be a really good idea to adopt and care for a pet. Encouraging results from Animal-assisted therapy have also been noted in helping people deal with feelings of loneliness, depression or being unloved. New studies have linked pet owners with better physical and mental health and lower risk of insecurity, anxiety, and loneliness. A survey in the UK found that 87% of cat-owning respondents felt that owning a pet had a very positive impact on their wellbeing.

  • Talk to a Psychologist/Counsellor

    Loneliness may be an indicator of a more serious underlying mental health concern such as major depression, grief reaction, self or body image issues, adjustment disorder or personality disorder. Talking to a qualified mental health psychologist or counsellor/psychotherapist may be your best bet in identifying the root cause of the problem and enhancing your quality of life.

Our Melbourne CBD psychologists will identify the core underlying distresses that could be impacting of your everyday activities and will instruct you the various approaches, strategies and treatments to get you back to becoming the real you. Call us on 1300 967 734

References
de Jong Gierveld, J., Van Tilburg, T., & Dykstra, P. (2016). Loneliness and social isolation.

 

About the editor, Dr Malcolm Winstanley-Cross

I am a Registered Psychologist with AHPRA’s Psychology Board of Australia and a Chartered Counselling Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, UK. My formal training began with a B.A. in Psychology and Welfare at Charles Sturt University, and B.A. (Hons) Psychology from the University of Wollongong. I then progressed to the M.A. (Hons) Clinical Psychology at the same university before moving to the UK to undertake a PhD in Psychology from City, University of London.

Find out more about Dr Malcolm Winstanley-Cross

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