You can learn to cope with loneliness even if it doesn’t seem that way right now. There is always hope. In this blog post, I will emphasise on some practical coping mechanisms for you.
Most people assume that loneliness is limited to single people. This is not true. Recently I went out to dinner with friends who I have not seen in years. I have been feeling rather isolated. I usually work from home so I hardly get to socialise with colleagues and friends.
After much deliberation and contemplation, I thought why not?
Surely I deserve a night out to unwind and catch up. It’s been a tough year and two of my friends have lost family members.
I planned a small get together. I was a bit anxious to meet everyone again since it has been a while. A lot has changed during the past year for all of us.
Some of my friends lost their jobs. Some are trying to cope with working from a home office. Some have recent additions to the family.
As for me, business has been slow. I have been working on editing my book which I wrote during the pandemic.
What’s more is that I have also put on tons of weight. This is something which makes me pretty self-conscious around people.
That morning, I hunted in my closet for the perfect outfit, until my bedroom looked like I was having a garage sale.
Finally, after spending an hour at the hair salon, getting a very pricey haircut and a keratin treatment, my confidence level went up a notch or two.
The next stop was at my beauty therapist. I had a full facial and threading done too. I was now ready for dinner with everyone.
When I got to the V & A Waterfront, as usual I was the first one there. I browsed through some stores and then spotted one of my crazy very bubbly friends.
Naturally I was excited to see her.
She was walking towards me, but I doubt that she noticed I was there. She seemed to be in a whole world of her own.
“Hey! I said.”
She looked at me almost as if she was looking past me. We hugged and she teased me about my weight gain. I went on with her about her being so skinny. It is our never ending and usual banter whenever we meet.
We found a table big enough for the six of us. As we were contemplating our drink orders, I realised she was pretty subdued today. Usually, Amina is loud. She is hilarious with a dry sense of humour. I tried to ignite meaningful conversation, however, she just brushed me off.
After about fifteen minutes, I exploded:
“ Did you have a fight with your husband again? Why do you look like that?”
Obviously, we go years back, so I can speak to her in this way. I was not prepared for the sudden tears which welled up in her eyes or the pain I saw there.
I knew I had put my foot in it. She took my hand and squeezed it after I apologised a billion times, feeling like an insensitive fool.
“It’s okay!” she said.
I have not been myself lately.
“I feel so lonely,” she confessed. I was at a loss for words, shocked at what she was saying.
” How can you be lonely with a house full of people Amina?” I asked her.
Amina is a doctor who specialises in aesthetics. She has an enormous home in the leafy suburbs with four children, a husband, a dog and a cat.
They have a rather luxurious lifestyle with two maids to assist her. Her mom and dad live right next door to them.
How on earth can she be lonely? I thought as our drinks arrived. I sipped on my virgin Mojito to hide my discomfort.
Was she mocking me? I wondered. I mean, I am the single mom and recluse. I am the one who should be lonely. I am the one who sometimes struggles to cope with loneliness.
She spoke about feeling disconnected to everyone.
I could not understand how this was possible until she explained herself. Her husband is a busy accountant who spends most of his time working.
He often comes home pretty late. Her sons are usually at uni or out with friends now that there is a lift on the curfew.
Her teenage daughters are always bickering among themselves. She is the referee during their arguments.
Her folks are old and whenever she visits them, her mom is always complaining about something or the other.
She feels like she has nobody to talk to and it’s getting to her. I smiled and nodded at her trying to be compassionate and understanding. After all, Amina has always been the loud, confident one in our group. Hearing her speak about loneliness prompted me to research and write about it.
What Is The Definition Of Loneliness?
Long bouts of social isolation usually characterise loneliness. It’s a deeper feeling of not being able to connect with people. Sometimes it’s due to physically being divided and separated from friends and family. Other times, loneliness can occur from a lack of self-esteem. Loneliness can make you feel inadequate and even increase self loathing.
What Signs Should You Look For When It Comes To Loneliness?
- When see someone who is usually the life of every party, we automatically assume that this person is confident and happy. It’s so easy to put on a cheerful face for the world to see when we are actually dying inside. Some cope with loneliness by hiding it well.
- You may find yourself unable to have relationships with meaning and intimacy. Your relationships may just be on the surface. Deeper connections are rare.
- You may have tons of people who you know, yet you don’t have any real friends who actually understand you.
- You usually feel as if you are living more in your own head. You can be surrounded by people, whether friends, strangers or family, but you still feel left out. You feel different.
- You are always comparing yourself to others and finding that you fall short. You have a negative self-worth.
- Your energy waxes and wanes after spending time with enormous crowds of people. You feel drained with social interactions.
- Sometimes you may feel like the energy you put into relationships is not reciprocated. This can be a very lonely feeling.
Newsflash: If You Can’t Cope With Loneliness, It Can Eventually Kill You.
That’s right, whether you like it or not, you must find a solution to cope with Loneliness. There are some major health repercussions to being chronically lonely.
People who are lonely are usually stressed out. This means that their cortisol levels are high. When your cortisol levels are too high, this can wreak havoc with your body. It creates unnecessary health issues that you don’t need.
This could cause major health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, mental health issues, sleep disorders and even immune disorders.
People who are fulfilled obviously live longer lives. As human beings we are made to be part of packs and communities. When we feel isolated, it goes against our very nature.
The recent pandemic has wiped out families. Currently, there are more people who are living in isolation after losing family members, children and spouses.
What Is The Solution To Coping With Loneliness?
There isn’t a magical silver bullet that solves this issue. It will take a while to be resolved. It requires strength, tenacity and patience. If you have a strong desire to get out of this state, here is what you can do to cope with loneliness:
- Admit that you are actually lonely. Many people are ashamed to say that they feel this way. I know of so many women who are divorced and lonely. The last words on their vocabulary list is: ‘I feel lonely.’ I mean nobody wants others to engage with them out of pity. I know of friends who paint a picture of loving their life after divorce. Then they go home and cry themselves to sleep. If you want genuine connections, maybe you should start being transparent too.
- Speak about your feelings to others. Reaching out to people does not make you weak. Sometimes speaking about your feelings can lead to revelations about people. Maybe there are others just like you, facing the same issues. In this way you realise you are not alone.
- Take that first step. Do whatever you need to put yourself out there. Sometimes people are spoilt and lazy about making that first move. If you put in some effort to get together with friends and family, they will reciprocate the effort too.
- Don’t make life all about you. Other people have their own problems to deal with. Be that personality that makes others smile. When you reach out and offer a helping hand, it’s a healing power for yourself too.
- Exercise contributes to your dopamine and serotonin levels. I cannot stress the importance of exercise as a coping mechanism. Use it to cope with loneliness, because I swear it really helps. It helps with your hormones and it helps with your self-esteem as well.
- Keep moving. What I mean is don’t wallow in self pity and become stuck. Do the things that you love doing. Hobbies and activities take your mind off your isolation and loneliness. In fact, you can find hobbies and crafts to engage in which involves other people.
- Find a support group if you are suffering from bereavement. There are many online groups.
- Get help from a trusted therapist. There are some skills which they are trained to equip you with.
- Prayer and meditation helps to cope with loneliness. It brings hope. Knowing that there is a higher power means that you will never be alone. Knowing that your fate has been pre- ordained means that you must accept the things you cannot change. A spiritual connection brings peace to the soul. Actively participating in prayers has a calming effect on the mind.
Before I end this blog post, I need you to understand that it is not a sign of weakness to admit when you are lonely. Admitting how you feel could be the start of coping with loneliness. You are not as alone as you think you are.
In a world where technology has advanced, there are many ways where you can reach out to someone. There are billions of people on this planet. There are just as many good people who will hold your hand and walk with you on your journey called life.
It’s up to you to decide how long you will allow loneliness to be your closest companion. No matter what your circumstances may be, it doesn’t always have to remain that way. You will cope with loneliness if you make the effort to do so. You will get through this. Best you believe that!