According to Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, man is, by nature, a social animal. The loneliest people are antisocial individuals in any society. Human brains are wired to depend on social connections to thrive. Whenever you are cut out from these connections, your brain will tend to trigger the feelings of pain and sadness. Loneliness is a feeling that causes people to feel alone, unwanted, and empty. It is therefore politically correct to say as a human being, you cannot live alone. You need social interactions to define who you are.
Loneliness can take a toll on your health. It can affect your mental and physical health. When it affects you psychologically, you develop conditions such as insomnia in that you are completely unable to sleep. Research has shown that loneliness can also elevate your chances of developing dementia when you’re older. In very severe instances, loneliness has been known to trigger suicidal thoughts and can drive you to take your life.
Apart from impacting your mental health, this condition can also influence your physical health. Studies have reported that people who experience chronic loneliness eat unhealthy foods that lower their immune system. They are also at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Apart from your health, loneliness can also influence your behavior. Most lonely people tend to turn to substance abuse in certain instances.
So, in a world filled with interesting people and a lot of fun things to do, why do people feel lonely? Here are three reasons detailing why:
1. Loneliness can be hereditary
You could have inherited loneliness from your parents. Research shows that there are about 15 genetic variations that can make you susceptible to loneliness. It is such traits that make you want to distance yourself from people.
A good example of people with hereditary loneliness is an introvert. These are people who prefer to live in isolation. They possess a reserved and quiet demeanor and are overwhelmed by social engagements involving many people. Some people are born introverts, while others pick up this trait as a result of how they were raised.
2. Inflated expectations toward friends
Have you ever felt lonely while hanging out with a group of friends? Well, it is possible to feel that way. Having a lot of friends is not a guarantee that you will not get lonely. Friendships are built on relationships and often have feelings attached to them. If you do not feel connected to your numerous companions, you will tend to get lonely. People with lonely tendencies assume that having friends will help them solve their problems. Unfortunately, not everyone in your social circle will come to your aid when you are in trouble. Very few will provide support, so you should strive to have quality and not quantity with regards to friends.
“If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.” – Zig Ziglar
3. You’re too uptight
Some people constantly maintain their “guard up” which makes it difficult for them to bond and connect with other people. If you are the kind of person who sits in a social gathering and stays quiet the entire time when other people are having a conversation, then you’re contributing to your loneliness. Such behavior will make it difficult for other people to reach out to you and want to bond with you.
4. The fallacy of social media
Ideally, social media is supposed to bring people together but the irony is that it causes people to feel lonely. How does this happen? People tend to post their best selves on social media platforms even when it is not true. When you are busy checking your friends or colleague’s images of their supposedly “perfect lives”, it is likely that you will feel left out.
A recent study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found an association between social media and loneliness.
Having known why people tend to get lonely, what do you do about it then? Here are tips on how to avert loneliness:
1. Engage in sporting activities
You know you are lonely when you feel unhappy and sad because you are isolated. The journey to averting loneliness begins with you. There are numerous activities you can engage in to feel connected to people. For example, you could take part in sporting activities such as marathons or cycling races near you. In such sporting activities, you have a chance to meet numerous people and it is unlikely that you will feel alone.
2. Volunteer in community work
Volunteering gives you a chance to focus on the needs of other people. It is difficult to feel lonely when you are caring for the elderly in a home or catering to the homeless. Lending a hand will leave you feeling fulfilled and it will also help you keep your mind off sad thoughts that are associated with loneliness.
“A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings. Remember that next time you feel alone.” – Mandy Hale
3. Attend therapy
When you experience chronic loneliness, you should seek help. You could source the services of a therapist who will help you understand the underlying issues that are making you dissociate from other people. Therapy will give you fresh perspectives on your problems and help you understand your emotions better.
4. Detach from social platforms
As indicated above, social media is one of the factors that contribute to loneliness. In case you spend a lot of time on these social media platforms, you need to stop it and reexamine your life. When you do so, you will realize there is a lot you could with your life away from these platforms. However, you can decide to scroll through these platforms once in a while based on how well you are doing with the management of your loneliness.
Loneliness is a complex emotion that can affect anyone. Of importance is how you handle yourself when this feeling overwhelms you. If you want to be happier and live a full life, you need to tackle the problems in your life that are making you sad and unhappy.
The process of overcoming loneliness begins when you focus your attention on the things that matter the most in life like social interactions. Often, it is difficult for people to notice that you are sad and lonely, therefore, you should endeavor to look after yourself.