Life, Wellbeing

Loneliness: What It Really Means And How To Manage It

Everybody can get lonely at times. It’s quite a normal feeling actually. No matter how much of a social-butterfly you are or how many friends and family you surround yourself with, loneliness is a natural emotion. In fact, one in three Australians suffer bouts of loneliness. It’s also completely okay to allow yourself to feel lonely. In fact, it’s not always a bad thing. But in those moments when you want to combat that loneliness, there are some things you can do.

Understand What Loneliness Is

Being lonely is an emotional response to your circumstance and it can make you feel sad or low. Of course, there may be moments when you’re completely happy to be by yourself. And there will be moments when you’ll be by yourself, wishing for the company of others. When figuring out what ‘loneliness’ is, it’s crucial to understand this difference. Loneliness has been described as “a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you”. Notably, it is possible to feel lonely at any time in any place, even when surrounded by people. Perhaps the most important thing to remember when it comes to loneliness though, is that it’s okay and human to feel lonely. And when you’re ready, there are some things you can do to help alleviate this feeling.

Recognise The Things That Make You Feel Lonely

The first step to easing the feeling of loneliness, is recognising what it is that is causing you to feel that way. There are many reasons someone may develop a feeling of loneliness and while one reason may resonate with you, it may not impact your neighbour at all. Situational loneliness is cause by a change in circumstance. Developmental is the process that differentiates between the need for intimacy and the need for time by yourself. And internal loneliness is often seen in people with certain vulnerability. If you categorise yourself with one of the above it can make it easier to work out how to combat those feelings.

Combating Those Feelings Of Loneliness

Once you figure out where the feelings are stemming from, it’s about working out specific ways you can help or things you can do to lighten the burden. It’s also important to realise that a feeling of loneliness will not last forever. It’s tempting to retreat when you’re feeling lonely and it’s okay to do this occasionally. But it’s necessary to connect with others. Talk to your loved ones. You don’t necessarily have to talk right away about your feelings; simply talking may help you eventually feel comfortable about opening up. It’s also essential that you get out and about. Visit friends, get some exercise, try to say yes to social engagements. Simply being out in public may help. Additionally, you can try a new hobby to connect with new people or learn a new skill.

Keep Yourself Busy

Connecting with your community is not only a wonderful way to give back, but it’s also a lovely way to combat loneliness. Research has shown that people who spend time volunteering experience more personal support and friendship than those who do not volunteer. Volunteering gets you out of the house and helps build relationships – whether it’s with the people you’re volunteering alongside or the people you’re helping.

Depending on the volunteer work you do, it can also help bridge the gap between generations. Volunteering also helps with self-esteem and vulnerabilities, by addressing the human need to feel needed. The simple act of doing something for other people also increases a person’s overall feeling of happiness, increasing the likelihood of further interaction with others.

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Born and raised in Sydney, Shayen is a deep thinker, an avid lover of dogs and sucks at Goldeneye. Since he's been able to put crayon to paper, there's nothing Shayen has loved more than telling a good story. He loves to inspire readers on the subjects of healthy living, self-improvement and making a difference.

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