Loneliness is a feeling that we all experience at some point in our lives, but for some people, it becomes a chronic problem. According to a study by the AARP, 42% of older adults experience loneliness. Unfortunately, loneliness can have serious consequences for our physical and mental health. Studies have shown that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and premature death.
The Dangers of Loneliness
Loneliness is not just a feeling, it’s a risk factor for our health. A study published in the journal Heart in 2017 found that loneliness was associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke. Another study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry in 2015 found that lonely individuals had a 26% increased risk of death from any cause compared to non-lonely individuals.
Loneliness can also have a negative impact on our mental health. People who feel lonely are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. Loneliness can also lead to poor sleep, an increased risk of cognitive decline, and a higher risk of substance abuse.
5 Tips on How to Be Alone
Learning how to be alone is an important step in overcoming loneliness. Here are a few tips to help you learn how to be alone:
1. Embrace your alone time
Instead of viewing alone time as something to be feared, try to view it as an opportunity to do something you enjoy, like reading, writing, or practicing a hobby.
2. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a great way to stay present in the moment and appreciate the small things in life. Try meditating, yoga or journaling.
3. Connect with nature
Spending time in nature can help you feel more connected to the world around you. Take a walk in a park, go for a hike, or simply sit and observe nature.
4. Try new things
Whether it’s taking a class, trying a new hobby, or traveling to a new place, trying new things can help you feel more connected to the world around you.
Helping others can be a great way to feel more connected to the world around you. Look for volunteer opportunities in your community.
6. Develop a self-care routine
Taking care of yourself can help you feel more in control of your life and more confident. Try to include activities that nourish your body, mind and spirit.
7. Seek help if needed
If you find yourself struggling to be alone, it may be a good idea to talk to a therapist or counselor. They can help you work through any underlying issues and give you strategies to cope with loneliness.
Are You Lonely or Are You Pushing People Away?
It’s important to understand that loneliness is not the same as being alone. You can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely. In some cases, people may push others away, due to past traumas or fear of rejection. If you find yourself feeling lonely, it’s important to take a step back and think about whether you might be pushing people away. If you suspect that this might be the case, it’s important to seek help from a therapist or counselor.
Loneliness is a serious issue that can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health. Learning how to be alone and developing healthy relationships is an important step in overcoming loneliness. If you find yourself feeling lonely, it’s important to seek help and understand that you are not alone in this.
- AARP: Loneliness Study, https://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-2020/loneliness-study-fd.html
- Study published in the journal Heart in 2017, https://www.heart.org/en/news/2017/08/07/loneliness-and-social-isolation-as-risk-factors-for-heart-disease-and-stroke
- Study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry in 2015, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2423152
- Study published in the journal Psychological Science in 2010, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797610364662
- Study published in the journal Health Psychology in 2007, https://psycnet.