The world grows ever smaller, more connected, more crowded, and ironically, increasingly lonely for many of us. This is a problem with a whole host of unhappy consequences, not just for the individuals who experience it, but for society as a whole.
It’s important to point out before I go any further that loneliness is not the same thing as being a private person, or a “loner,” because some of us actually both need and enjoy a lot of time to ourselves.
For instance, lonely people sleep poorly, experience severe depression and anxiety, have reduced immune and cardiovascular functioning, and exhibit sings of early cognitive decline that grow more severe over time.
There are interventions aimed at:
1. Change your Thought Pattern– I don’t know why, but people who feel lonely and depressed tend to watch shows and read materials that reinforce their depressed mood. Are you listening to music about heartbroken people? Are you watching movies that require a box of tissues? What you need to do is change your way of thinking! Start listening to uplifting music, read inspirational writing — such as poems or the Bible — and start watching uplifting TV shows. All of these will help to change your negative thought patterns.
2 .Keep Busy– If you are lonely, don’t dwell on the fact. Get up and get out! Go somewhere where there are a lot of people. Don’t worry if you don’t know any of them; sometimes being around other people can help brighten your spirits. Other simple things you can do to keep busy are to join a club, take some classes at the YMCA, volunteer at a non-profit organization, or take up a hobby that requires mental concentration. The point is to find something that interests you and run with.
3.Get Involved– Your neighborhood and your church are two great places to start getting involved. On the surface this might sound like the same thing as keeping busy. Getting involved in something will require a little more time and lot more of your attention, but that is what you want. So commit yourself to some cause or charity that you feel passionate about. The more involved you get, the more people you will meet, the less and less loneliness will be an issue. Look around at the people you know who do not experience loneliness. Chances are, they are busy and involved people.
4 .Make small-talks with people you interact with- If you’re feeling lonely, it can help to have a brief conversation with the grocery store clerk or the bank teller. This will help you feel a connection with someone, even if you don’t have a lengthy conversation with this person. Even a simple act like saying hello to your neighbor can help you feel more connected. This might even be the impetus you need to start a conversation that will result in a lifelong friendship.
5. Regulate your sleep schedule- Recent studies have shown that when you sleep, your brain gets a deep cleaning. Your body uses this time to flush out toxins and other dangerous material. When you don’t sleep enough, this puts you at risk of mental stress, because that buildup makes it hard for your brain to work properly make sure that you get enough restful, continuous sleep to ensure that your brain has its best chance. Most adults will need around 8 hours of sleep, but plenty of people need more while some people may need less. Experiment to find what works for you.
6. Help Other Lonely People- There are a lot of people out there like yourself: people who are lonely and don’t know how to cope with their loneliness. If you look for those people and strive to help cure their loneliness, in the end you will also be helping yourself to cure your own loneliness.
7. See it for What it Is– You will need to start to view loneliness as a choice and not as a defined way of life. This means that you choose to be lonely when you do not really have to be lonely. Try being happy for a change and you will see the difference a smile will make. Just as feelings of loneliness breed more feelings of loneliness, feeling of happiness can bring about more feelings of happiness. If necessary, join a group that deals with feeling lonely. A group setting is designed to help you develop an optimistic attitude.