Guide On How To Deal With Loneliness And Overcome It

Guide On How To Deal With Loneliness And Overcome It

Loneliness is a big deterrent to wellness.It is as dangerous as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. Loneliness is costly too! Roughly $6.7 billion extra healthcare costs annually in the US Medicare beneficiaries can be attributed to loneliness.

Today, people are lonelier than ever before despite ample opportunities of socialization. We got used to technical connectivity more which led to mental disconnection. Enforced social isolation is even more worrisome as people struggle how to deal with loneliness.

Surveys have found lonely people often feel they are reaching out or listening to people more than they are reached out or listened.  This feeling of rejection often creates grounds for loneliness. Social connections are crucial for people’s health and happiness. Physical impairment, illness, and personal loss isolate people making them feel lonelier in due course of life.

This wellness guide digs deep into loneliness providing useful tips to overcome it.

Guide On How To Deal With Loneliness And Overcome It

What is loneliness?

Sad, burnout and depressed woman sitting and thinking on the floor Social psychologists define loneliness as a gap between social and personal connections that you prefer and those you experience. Bigger the gap lonelier you are. It is a subjective experience and is quite tough to identify. The mere absence of psychological and mental connection contributes to loneliness. A lack of feeling that you are genuinely cared for prevails.

What is the difference between being alone and loneliness?


Being alone and being lonely are two distinct terminologies. Being alone does you no harm. In fact, it is important to give yourself that time frame where you sit alone and be only in the company of yourself for a while. Alone time is necessary for you to dwell upon your actions, and think of your future plans. It refreshes your mind and leaves you feeling more energetic than before.

Loneliness, however, is a completely different aspect. This happens when one has nobody to talk to or be with. Such people have absolutely no close friends or family who can look beyond what their face says. Different people react in different ways to loneliness.

A handful of people take it upon themselves, channel all their energy into professional life, and turn all tides in their favor. But a vast majority of people are badly affected by isolation and being lonely. 

Do you know the major cause of loneliness?

Digital tech influenceLoneliness is mainly caused due to changes in lifestyle and circumstances often beyond the individual’s acceptance and adaptation abilities.

These can be:

  • Bereavement
  • Breakup in a relationship
  • Previous traumatic experience
  • Poor parental bonding
  • Trapped in confirmation bias
  • Judgmental attitude
  • Enforced isolation(due to aging, disability, major illness, or WFH)
  • Prolonged disengagement from family and friends
  • Change in living arrangements
  • Financial or occupational problems
  • Retirement from work
  • Ruthless competition and peer pressure
  • Fear of vulnerability
  • Digital tech influence

An individual is quite likely to feel lonely at some point in life but they also have the innate ability to overcome it through strong relationships with the family, friends, or other support systems.

According to a study from Harvard University, Stanford University, Curtin University, and the University of Western Australia, maladaptive emotional regulation strategies can be attributed to more than 50% of the variance in loneliness.

This means people experiencing moderate or extreme loneliness take the wrong emotional route to cope with this situation. They take to self-blaming or blaming others, rumination, and overthinking and are not open to thought reframing or reappraisal of thoughts.

They crave social connections or meaningful relationships deep inside to fulfill their unmet needs but respond to emotions by suppressing their expressions. They actively avoid social contact fearing uncomfortable emotions. This unhealthy habit of emotion regulation perpetuates the feeling of sadness and loneliness in the long run. 

Why loneliness is a killer?

Memory loss due to dementia

In today’s self-obsessed culture, loneliness is a little-discussed issue. The world woke up in surprise when in 2017 the former US General Surgeon, Vivek Murthy called loneliness a silently-growing epidemic. Several research has shown chronic loneliness is associated with an increased risk of depression, dementia, self-harm, and suicide.

Let us not forget, we humans are wired to social connections since cave-dwelling and hunting days. Human beings never stayed alone or moved alone. You may feel surprised, how loneliness can be a killer even if you lead a healthy lifestyle and your vital parameters are fine. Prolonged loneliness means you are always “on alert” mode consciously or unconsciously because you have nobody to fall back on in case of any crisis.

This elevated alert mode increases your wear and tear impacting your cardiovascular health and body immunity let alone other emotional issues. You can never be in a fully relaxed mode. Even worse is you get so habituated to this “on alert” mode that you are unable to comprehend the magnitude of the crisis when it strikes you.

Loneliness remains masked in society. It is looked upon as an embarrassing condition.  People choose to suffer from this situation rather than seek help ultimately falling prey to killer diseases. The elderly and disabled or people with restricted mobility either have limited to zero access to social connections. Depreciating social skills due to aging makes them more alienated from society which builds frustration.

A few scary facts about loneliness

 sad senior mature lady exhausted depressed weary dizzy tired thinking of problems

  • Despite the high level of connectedness and networking that we are into, rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s.
  • 330 million adults all over the world spend at least two weeks without talking to family members or friends.
  • More than one million elderly population in the UK spend more than a month without talking to a friend, neighbor, or family member.
  • Loneliness in the US has increased more than twice in the last 40 years making 61% of Americans report being lonely.
  • Around 45% of residents in the UK report of loneliness with 5% of them feeling extremely lonely.
  • The longest study on mortality risk from loneliness done by Harvard University states that it is a bigger killer than caused by smoking, physical inactivity, and alcoholism. Healthy relationships contribute more to a healthy and happy life than genes, IQ, or social status.
  • Strong social connections are related to a 50% reduced risk of early death.
  • Overcrowding due to urbanization increases loneliness by up to 38%. Green spaces reduce the chances of loneliness by 50%.
  • According to research, even our body sensations can influence our feeling of loneliness. Cold sensation aggravates loneliness while the warm sensation can generate the feeling of social warmth.

You thought loneliness impacts only the elderly?

young man suffering from loneliness

  • A WEF study reveals 40% of under 25 population report of loneliness.
  • 54% of Gen Z population feel totally disconnected from their colleagues in workplace.
  • In a 2018 analysis from the Britain’s Office for National Statistics found 10% of young Brits aged 16-24 felt lonely often or always compared to 3% of those aged 65 or more.
  • A 2019 US survey found, nearly 1 in 5 millennials have no friends, a number significantly higher than the Baby boomers or GenXers who are without friends. 
  • A Harvard University study found 61% of young adults 18-25 years old reported higher levels of loneliness during the pandemic than that of the elderly.

How increased social isolation is leading to loneliness?


Globalization and the never-ending rat race in all aspects of life have made people self-centered. Socio-economic structures have gone through a major shiftleading to widespreadsocial isolation. Today, more people are feeling lonely. Lack of in-person social interaction, prolonged stay-at-home requirements being away from family and friends are responsible for the growing loneliness affecting both the young and old.

Japan has welcomed the hiring of the first ‘Minister of Loneliness’ to tackle the growing suicides from social and economic isolation with working women and single mothers posing the highest risk. Previously, the US has also taken a similar approach of hiring a Loneliness Minister whose effects are yet to be realized.

Such approaches by the government underscore the harmful effects of loneliness on physical and mental health, and its ripple effects in economic decline and mounting healthcare costs.

What are the harmful impacts of loneliness?

man suffering from mental illness

There are plenty of damaging factors that arise due to loneliness and isolation. But the good news is that you can tackle them all. There are many people out there who are falling prey to various physical and mental illnesses just because they are lonely. The harmful effects which come with loneliness are not to be overlooked, since they are as fatal and harmful as any other physical condition. Here are a few of them:

Loneliness gives rise to a myriad of health issues

Young man with beard, lost in the vices of alcoholism, smoking and drug addictionObjective loneliness that is people living alone and subjective loneliness where people frequently report of loneliness are related with higher morbidity and mortality.

A disturbed mind will eventually lead to disturbed bodily functions. Lack of concentration and considerably low mental retaining capacity are the most common of symptoms. Also, lonely people are more prone to over intake drugs which can then harm their health. The circulation of hormones in the body is highly affected, and so is the blood pressure.

  • If you are lonely or socially isolated, you have a 29 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease and 32 percent higher risk of stroke.
  • A lonely or socially isolated person is 30 percent more likely to die a premature death. Even limited durations of loneliness can lead to early death.
  • The risk of developing clinical dementia is 64 percent higher among lonely elderly patients.
  • Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) reports prolonged self-isolation in youth and children could lead to depression and anxiety years later.

Loneliness can augment depression and anxiety

Woman suffering an anxiety attack alone in the night

According to researchers, depression is caused by a combination of factors like genetics, behavioral traits, habits, and environment. Loneliness can aggravate it. Research shows, feeling lonely increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol which can make depression more intense. Loneliness is often a transient state but depression is generally long-lasting though there might be some overlapping symptoms.

Loneliness can drive suicidal tendencies

Young Man Commiting Suicide By Overdosing On Medication

With absolutely nobody to talk to, one starts feeling neglected and isolated. To a lonely person, everyone else seems happy and full of life. They start cursing and doubting their condition to the extent that they no longer wish to live. This is when over usage of drugs starts happening. They lose interest in life, and suicidal tendencies set in.

Loneliness leads to sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation

A stressed-out mind cannot easily concentrate and think clearly. Many thoughts keep running through their head all day long. Since they have no one to talk to, these thoughts do not find a way out. There are no conversations taking place, and hence it is the sleeping pattern that gets disrupted. They spend more time lying awake in bed with plenty of thoughts scurrying through their minds. 

Useful tips to deal with loneliness

mindful emotions

Social wellness is the antidote to loneliness. We take so much care for ourwell-being but often miss out on the value of social well-being, a crucial wellness dimension.

There are a few ways by which loneliness can be dealt with. You need to actively follow certain steps to overcome the problem of loneliness. Harnessing your mind and thoughts and channelizing them properly is the first step to deal with loneliness.

Take good care of yourself

Woman working on a diet plan

Taking good care of yourself means understanding and building a healthy relationship with yourself. Having good food, going for workouts, and engaging in healthy recreation and relaxation are the basic things to keep loneliness at bay.

Shift your Me-Time to We-Time

Happy family with small children hiking outdoors in summer nature, walking in High Tatras.

Too much of Me-time as a part of self-care can push you toward loneliness. Me-time is needed to declutter your mind but being obsessed with it can backfire. Your near and dear ones will go away from you respecting your ‘me time’.  Focus more on ‘We-Time’ for some fun moments with family, friends, and even co-workers.

Be mindful of your connections, less is more

Depression, bored or woman typing on laptop

An extensive list of friends and acquaintances on social media platforms could not spare you from loneliness. Technology often gives you the false impression of keeping you highly connected in the social sphere. Maintain a handful of meaningful relationships with friends, you will feel contented. Else your thoughts get lost in the crowd.

Be in regular touch with them. If in-person meet is not feasible, call them or text messages without going overboard. Share humorous and witty posts in the close circle. The reciprocation that you receive gives a feel-good factor leading you to the way to beat loneliness. Remember, your social network is your networth.

Be an active listener

Two female friends talking over coffee outside a cafe

Active listening helps more in building connections than talking. Mindful listening builds comfort in the other person. It shows you are respecting the other person’s views. They will show more interest to connect with you and spend quality time. You also gain new perspectives and food for thought which will not allow you to feel lonely. Active listening needs practice and self-awareness before you get the benefits.

Nurture meaningful relationships

Young hispanic couple on vacation smiling happy sitting on bench at the beach

Do whatever it takes to nurture meaningful relationships be it at home, work, or among friends. Do not take relationships for granted. Be honest in relationships and shower your sincerity, love, and care on persons who matter in your life. Maintain a good bonding with your family members and extended family.

Overcome the fear of rejection

conversation between group of people

You won’t be able to deal with loneliness unless you get past the fear of rejection. Talk to strangers frequently. Set up a conversation, and you will be surprised with the outcome. You will find many in the same boat. In the process, if you happen to help anybody with information or acts, the reward will be delightful. Most of us are eager to extend our acquaintances but few step forward to break the ice. You take the bold step.

Get out of the stranger danger syndrome

Shy young female person covering her face

You cannot unlock the power of social wellness unless you take steps to connect with strangers. Strangers are not always the dangers. We often carry the wrong perception. But that does not mean you will drop your guards. Keep your common sense alert and enjoy expanding your network.

Generate attraction in your communication

Charming blonde woman keeping smile on her face while having pleasant conversation

Create moments for your friends and acquaintances to enjoy your company, and nothing can be great if they are drawn to your communication skills. Add humour and pleasantries to your interaction. Interact on varied subjects instead of ruminating same things.

The more you come across new faces the more you will learn to build attraction in communication. This will drive you towards more meaningful connections and people will make time to interact with you amid their busy schedule.

Wear a smile always

Waist up shot of beautiful young woman shaking hand to stylish man

Smiling is a big ice-breaker. It gives off a special aura. It is contagious as well. Smiling faces create the comfort to forge connections. People will be drawn towards you and make you feel valued. Would you like to interact with a person with stern looks or a grumpy face?

Cultivate your intellectual wellness

Mindfulness, art therapy, creativity and creative hobbies concept.

All of us have different levels of intellectuality. Nurturing your intellectual aspect will stimulate your creativity leading you to meaningful engagements. Reading books, attending events of your likings or learning new skills is a great way to deal with loneliness.

Do not ruminate on voidness

Donation. Hands in medical gloves hold Food supplies crisis food stock for quarantine isolation period on yellow background

Loneliness is a feeling of voidness. If you go on feeding negative thoughts and feelings, loneliness creeps in. Instead of brooding or feeling sad of being alone, shift your focus to what you can contribute to. It could be a fund-raising program or offering charity on your birthday. You will get more encouraging persons to get connected with and feel less lonely.

Share moments in real


Whenever you come across any good experience, do not hesitate to share in your social circle – not virtually in social media but in person. You can call or text your friend or visit him/her in person to share those experiences.

You can share with your co-workers in workplace as well. Sharing is contagious, if you can build that comfort level in your circle you will get the same in return.Loneliness will be miles away.

Create moments of ‘awe’

Girl with a glass and a bottle of champagne sits on the seashore.Expose yourself to ‘awe’ generating moments. If you are mindful of your surroundings, you can spot many such ‘awesome’ moments like blooming of a flower, a bird building a nest, amazing sunrises, and many such natural events that happen continuously around us.

Traveling to new places is one of the best ways to experience awesome moments. Persons with creative mind or those who are extrovert are likely to experience more ‘awe’ moments.  It distracts your mind from self and makes you feel a part of a bigger canvas. You cease to feel lonely.

Diverse smiling yoga women in warrior pose during outdoor practice in remote nature.

Gift your self everyday a new day. Brainstorm ideas to spend the day differently. Do not repeat things that you have done the day before. Whether it is a change in your diet menu or whole day activities, try to include some new activities every day. To create new experiences for yourself daily, you may learn to reach out to others for ideas.

Participate in community work

volunteering, charity, people and ecology concept - group of happy volunteers with tree seedlings and rake walking in park

Community work gives mental satisfaction and helps you to beat loneliness. It could be in through online and offline forums, groups, or clubs where you feel happy to contribute. It could be anything from teaching, awareness-building, providing relief, disaster management. Such activities will never make you feel lonely or isolated.

With our unique adaptive capabilities, we may create our own strategies to deal with loneliness. There is no magic formula to overcome loneliness as different persons have different situations.

Subscribe to wellness clubs and forums

women at a wellness clubWellness clubs and forums run multi-faceted programs that help in your overall well-being. You will get to interact with like-minded people sharing similar values and principles. Wellness club interactions help you take the best path to wellness with zero chances of loneliness.

Do not glorify ‘loneliness’

Feeling helpless. Unhappy sad pleasant man lying on the sofa and putting his face in the cushion while cryingSuppressing the feeling of loneliness and other expressions are often glorified by society. ‘I am able enough to go alone (despite my unmet emotional and physical needs)’ get unnecessary attention and praise. Such painful emotional management is looked upon as a smart and efficient way of leading life. Very few think deeply about the dangers lurking in loneliness. If you feel lonely, avoid putting up a smart and boldface but reach out for support and help.

If loneliness seems to be overbearing, you may have to consider the following options:

Seek professional help

woman Seeking professional help

Loneliness is a recognized mental disorder that can lead to more psychological complications. Seek help from professionals who know how to guide other people out of loneliness. By being on proper medications and following their prescribed ways of bringing your life back on track, you can counter loneliness and become the energetic and happy person you would love to be.

Talk to trustworthy people

friends-sharing-their-thoughts.There are plenty of amazing and reliable people out there waiting to help their friends and family members, who might be feeling lonely. You can open up to such people and talk your heart out. Do not let yourself be alone, try being in the company of people who lift you up. 

All being said about the harmful effects of loneliness, let’s not forget loneliness is a transient phase. No matter how long it may seem, loneliness is a phase and will wither away with time.Every person faces loneliness as they pass through different stages of life. Individuals with their own coping skills can beat loneliness. It might not be an alarming condition for most. But if loneliness overpowers you and you lose the zeal for life, you need to take some initiative.

Apart from following the tips to deal with loneliness, never cease to be optimistic. Try to be in company of people be it family, friends, or anybody in the known circle. Life is delightful and holds much more good than you can contemplate.

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