by Caitlin H,
October 23, 2023
If you’ve ever felt lonely, you know how difficult it can be to navigate. Many things cause loneliness, including some you may not even realize are to blame.
- Life Facts: Sometimes, life events such as moving to a new city, breaking up with a significant other, or dealing with the death of a pet or loved one can cause loneliness.
- Your personality type: Introverts are less likely to be exposed to social interactions and may be more prone to feeling lonely.
- Social media: The decrease in real-life social interactions due to social media has made many people feel more isolated in the modern age. In addition, people are often absorbed in social media and give high priority to their social interactions over real ones.
- Mental health challenges: Cognitive distortion, or inaccurate thinking, causes some people to focus on negative and worst possible outcomes, leading to a cautious outlook that can isolate and frustrate others. Anxiety and depression may also play a role, as someone struggling with both may be less able to connect with others.
Whatever the cause, loneliness is a very powerful emotion that can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. Actually, a article 2019 from the National Institute on Aging noted that researchers have found that social isolation and loneliness put you at a number of risks, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Weaker immune system
- Cognitive impairment
- Alzheimer’s disease
Additionally, it is important to note that it is just as possible to feel lonely surrounded by family and friends as it is to live alone.
That’s why finding ways to combat loneliness and engaging in meaningful, productive activities can have a powerful impact on your health and weight loss journey.
Take these five practical steps to keep loneliness at bay.
1. Explore the emotion behind it
Fighting a strong emotion like loneliness may be your default coping method. However, denying that you feel lonely or trying to suppress it won’t make it go away. And the more you pretend it doesn’t exist, the more likely the feeling will grow. Instead, take some time to sit with the feeling and acknowledge that it is there. Try to visualize it as being outside of yourself and accept that you are a real person with genuine feelings. Write down the reasons why you feel lonely to explore what is going on in your life and see the possibilities for changes that will alleviate it.
2. Write a list of ideas.
Once you’ve explored what’s causing your loneliness, the next step is to write down activities that might help you deal with and cope with the feeling. This could mean many things unique to you, but here are some examples:
- Plan a monthly outing with friends.
- Join a neighborhood walking group.
- Find online forums for activities that interest you.
- Exploring social media for groups with similar interests and attending their events.
- Talking on the phone with a friend or loved one.
- Volunteer for a cause dear to you.
- Engaging in a coping activity you enjoy, such as walking, sewing, baking, gardening or reading.
3. Take the first jump.
After you’ve written your plan and ideas, now you can take the leap and test one or more of your ideas. Reach out to an old contact for a phone conversation. Explore Facebook groups the Come across for activities. Google volunteer opportunities near you. Ask a local college or learning center about in-person classes for things like cooking or baking. Head to a recreation center and sign up for a fitness or yoga class. There are lots of fun activities you can try!
4. Keep the momentum going.
After you try an activity from your list, write about your experience there. If it was enjoyable, keep the momentum going by subscribing to watch regularly. If it wasn’t for you, pick another activity from your list of ideas and try it. Eventually, you’ll find something you love and make some new friends in the process!
5. If all else fails, seek professional help
If you’ve taken all of the above steps and find that your loneliness isn’t getting better, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor or find a therapist. Mental health professionals can help you understand whether your loneliness is chronic, related to past trauma, or caused by distorted thought patterns. They can also help you with tangible coping mechanisms related to your individual situation.
Ultimately, combating loneliness with active steps can do wonders in alleviating the feeling and helping you connect with others—and this is necessary to ensure it positively affects your overall health.
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about connecting with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key and people will have the most success losing weight if they engage in common sense healthy eating and fitness.