Even though we live in an era where technology brings us closer together and communication is easier than ever, more and more people are affected by loneliness.
Loneliness is a feeling that we all have experienced or will experience at some point in our lives, some of us to a greater degree and others to a lesser extent. Feeling lonely is different from choosing to be alone, in the second case the individual isn’t negatively affected. The person chooses to spend time alone or with limited social activity and feels good about it.
On the contrary, loneliness is a chronic condition that can negatively affect the mental and physical health of the person and exhaust someone on an emotional and psychological level. Loneliness is deeper than not having a social life or friends. Sometimes there may be a social environment, but the person continues to feel alone.
«For as long as I can remember myself, I am alone and isolated. I spend my time at home as I have no company to go out with. I feel like I will never be able to make friends and I feel sad about this. »
N., student of DUTH, 19 years old
It is a psychological condition which often has deep roots. It is associated with negative thoughts that the person carries, as well as negative emotions, such as inadequacy, guilt, shame, disappointment and frustration. The person has a pessimistic attitude and a lack of hope for possible relationships. Furthermore, feels isolated and cut off from others and often from itself.
Loneliness is often accompanied by other negative emotions such as anxiety and depression. Characteristics such as low self-esteem, insecurity, negative self-image, lack of self-confidence and feelings of worthlessness reinforce its appearance and its presence in the person’s life.
«I feel like something is wrong with me. Why is it so easy for others, while I struggle so much? I’m afraid to approach others because I feel like I’m not good enough and I don’t have anything interesting to say. But I’m tired of feeling so alone. »
B., student of DUTH, 21 years old
Dealing with it may seem difficult, but there are many ways and ideas that can help change the situation. Here are some suggestions that may be helpful to those experiencing loneliness:
• Try something new.
You can try new activities, take up a new hobby, learn a foreign language, take up a sport or artistic activity or volunteer. In this way you will be mobilized but you will also have the opportunity to meet new people.
• Take small steps.
Start with small steps to get comfortable gradually. Getting out of the house every day even for a little while is a way of not shutting down.
• Nurture your existing relationships.
Maintain or strengthen your connections with the people with whom you feel good and close. Keep in touch with them, keep in touch by phone and schedule meetings with them. Don’t hesitate to suggest things or to be the one to initiate communication.
• Talk about the feeling of loneliness you experience.
It is not easy for others to support us if they do not know how we feel. It is often difficult to open up and talk about how we feel. Don’t push yourself, take your time and share as much as you want with the person you feel comfortable with. Sharing and externalizing what you are thinking and feeling is an important step and brings relief.
• Take care of yourself.
Good sleep, proper nutrition and exercise contribute significantly not only to our physical but also to our mental health and in the way we feel. We need to not neglect our basic needs in order to have even more energy and positive mood.
• Make constructive use of time with yourself.
Read a book, try a new recipe, watch a good movie, organize your space. Or just relax. See the time you spend alone as something positive, an opportunity to do what you enjoy, to put your thoughts in order, to rest.
• Eliminate negative habits, thoughts, relationships.
Remove people and relationships that you feel are not working in your favor. Try to eliminate negative thoughts you have about yourself and replace them with positive and empowering ones.
• Consult a specialist.
If you feel that the loneliness you experience is making it difficult for you and preventing you from coping with your daily life and having the life you want, then you contact a mental health specialist. Through the counseling process you could recognize and deal with any inhibitions and obstacles. In the Counseling and Accessibility Unit of Democritus University of Thrace there are specialists who could help you if you are having difficulties.
Satisfaction in life is based equally on a good relationship with oneself and on good relationships with others. In the need for solitude and in the need for interaction and extroversion, it is important to find the balance between these two sides.