Many people can feel lonely from time to time, especially at this time of year. As the cold weather sets in, days get shorter and darker, and people are often less likely to go out and socialise with others. This only increases feelings of loneliness. However, for others, loneliness can be a constant feeling. Loneliness can affect different people in completely different ways. For example, some people can even feel alone when surrounded by loved ones. A person can be lonely without being alone.
Loneliness can be described as the gap between a person’s desired level of human connection and the actual level of human connection they experience. It occurs when our desire for meaningful connections and relationships is not satisfied.
Although each person’s experience of loneliness is unique, those suffering often experience social isolation, feel left out, unheard, or feel like they don’t belong. This can have extreme effects on both mental and physical health if not dealt with.
The importance of human interaction
Human interaction is an essential part of life; it is only human to crave compassion and companionship. When this is taken away, you can feel very lonely and depressed. Here are some of the most common causes of loneliness:
- The loss of a loved one
- A sudden breakup
- Single parenthood
- Moving to a new area or going away to university
- Surviving abuse
- Loneliness can be experienced at any age or moment in life.
According to the 2021 World Happiness Report, those who felt more socially connected during the pandemic had:
- Higher life satisfaction
- Increased resilience
- Improved mental well-being
- It was shown that people with a strong support network could overcome challenges, be less stressed, and maintain a stable mental state.
What are the benefits of social connection?
Improves Mental Health: Connecting with others can give a boost to your mood, decrease stress levels, and even improve a person’s self-esteem.
Increases lifespan: research by PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) has suggested that being socially isolated can raise the chances of death by a staggering 50%. Furthermore, loneliness can lead to serious issues such as depression and cognitive decline.
Improved quality of life: social isolation can also be linked to health problems such as obesity, smoking, and heart disease.
What are the emotional consequences of loneliness?
There are strong links between loneliness and mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and substance dependency. Loneliness can also contribute to disruptions in eating and sleeping patterns. It is common for feelings of loneliness to sometimes develop to such an extent that they lead an individual to engage in acts of self-harm or have thoughts of suicide.
How we can help
The good news is that you aren’t alone; there are people who can help. The feeling of loneliness doesn’t have to be permanent. At the Henry Centre, we have experienced counsellors who can help you understand the cause of these feelings and discuss and resolve them to aid in your recovery. We provide the following therapies for those suffering from loneliness:
Individuals can rediscover themselves, create meaningful connections, and pave the way for a more fulfilling and balanced life.
Learn about our loneliness support and therapies here: https://thehenrycentre.co.uk/issues/loneliness/