How to conquer loneliness seems daunting. It is. Yet, if you are lonely, you must learn how to crush it. This will help you live longer and find meaning and purpose.
“Loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is intact.”Martha Beck
How to Conquer Loneliness: You Can Do It
How to conquer loneliness may seem impossible. It is more challenging if you’ve been chronically lonely. Yet, there are effective strategies you can use to cope with loneliness and crush it forever.
What Is Loneliness?
Loneliness is a miserable feeling. Being alone, however, doesn’t necessarily mean you are lonely. You may be, although you may deliberately want to be alone for a time and have no adverse effects.
What pushes loneliness to extremes? It’s the protractedness and sense of isolation and desperation. Loneliness can even potentially result in worsening mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
Yet, for those who are suffering from loneliness and want to take proactive steps to get past this toxic emotion, some things can help.
WISDOM AND OTHER LONELINESS COPING STRATEGIES
Here’s a sobering statistic. The National Center for Health Studies reveals that, by 2029, more than 20 percent of the adult U.S. population will be 65 and older. Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine identified common loneliness characteristics of seniors in retirement or senior living facilities and effective coping strategies to combat loneliness.
- With the increasing number of seniors in such facilities, it’s essential to recognize that loneliness is considered as harmful as smoking and obesity in shortening life spans.
- According to the researchers’ findings, the most significant risk factors for loneliness are age and poor social skills. Losing a sense of life purpose was also mentioned by participants. Of course, loneliness is subjective, and people feel the emotion differently.
Compelling Coping Strategies to Be Less Lonely
On the other hand, preventing loneliness or combatting its presence involves wisdom and compassion interventions. Researchers cite numerous studies on some compelling loneliness coping mechanisms:
- Engage in activities with others. Finlay & Kobayashi (2018) identified poor health as sometimes providing social engagement opportunities with family, friends, and caregivers considered valuable.
- Curb loneliness by keeping busy by yourself. Dragestet et al., 2015 found that occupying oneself helps combat loneliness.
- Set aside time for self-reflection and spiritual activities. Stanley et al., 2010, noted that there are benefits to being alone. In brief, solitude affords time to self-reflect and conduct personally important spiritual activities.
- Shared public spaces and communal activities help decrease loneliness. Li et al., 2018, said that acceptance and optimism, informal social support, and promoting independence and autonomy can help older Chinese immigrants enhance personal resilience.
HOW TO CONQUER LONELINESS: GET MOVING WITH EXERCISE
A concerning finding comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for 2015-2018 found that more than 15 percent of U.S. adults are physically inactive.
- Of course, inactivity levels vary by state. Puerto Rico is highest at 47.7 percent, and Colorado is lowest at 17.3 percent. The CDC says that inactive lifestyles are a factor in one in 10 premature deaths in this country.
- Guidelines for physical activity call for about 150 minutes of brisk exercise weekly. This can be broken down into shorter periods, such as 25 minutes or a 30-minute walk five times a week. Physical activity offers mental health benefits to improve mood, feeling, and sleep. It also reduces certain cancer risks and lowers obesity and heart disease risks.
Tip: What kind of exercise should you take up? Almost any activity will do. Begin by walking the dog. Ride a bike. Take a brisk walk alone or with others. Your mood, mind, and body will reap the benefits.
AEROBIC EXERCISE OFFERS COGNITIVE BENEFITS
Getting up often involves the ritual of drinking coffee, with the caffeine providing an energy jolt but also jumpstarting the mind. Researchers from the University of Western Ontario found that a brief burst of aerobic exercise boosts working memory just as much as caffeine.
Positive Effects of Aerobic Exercise
Furthermore, the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise happened during and after exercise. The ability of caffeine to positively affect cognition and mood sometimes comes with unwanted side effects during withdrawal. These include jitteriness, anxiety, headache, fatigue, decreased alertness, and reduced contentedness.
How Aerobic Exercise Helps
Aerobic exercise has none of those side effects. Therefore, it is especially good for those who may be anxious or can’t drink caffeine. Aerobic exercise can safely boost mood and improve memory.
Also, if you experience loneliness, aerobic exercise may help get you in contact with people again.
HOW TO CONQUER LONELINESS: TAKE UP JOURNALING
Journaling is energizing. Writing down your thoughts is cathartic. It catalyzes you to overcome loneliness. Besides having something to review later, journaling reinforces discipline. It helps you stick to a schedule. At the same time, you’re doing something good for your mental health.
Tip: Creative writing instructors encourage journaling. Writing down emotions and capturing events as they happen often motivate you to act.
This may involve making small lifestyle or behavior changes. It may spark creativity in another area. Regardless, journaling is an essential aid to improve mental health.
How to Get Started
Getting started is easy.
- Find something to write on or in. Set aside time each day to jot down your thoughts. Write without judgment. Write without stopping for the minutes you’ve allocated.
- Remember that this is your journal. You don’t have to share it with anyone. So, don’t worry about guarding your feelings.
- Lock away the journal if you are worried that others may find it. This isn’t about secrecy. It’s more about opening up, voicing your thoughts. Even vent, if that’s what it takes.
Also, note the good things that occur each day. How do you feel when something pleasant or unexpected happens? Jot down your small successes and what you look forward to tomorrow.
HOW TO CONQUER LONELINESS: ENCOURAGE FAMILY VISITS
Finally, even though the last thing you think you want is family coming over, you need this. If you want to conquer loneliness, ask your family to visit. According to research, regular visits can significantly protect against the loneliness associated with isolation.
Tip: Boost your mood with weekly family visits or those with friends. You look forward to it, and time passes quickly.
Furthermore, be proactive and visit if you know someone living alone and lonely. Bring a snack or meal. Watch a movie together. Play board games. Listen and be a good friend. That’s how to conquer loneliness.