“Loneliness is extremely painful, but once you recognize the perceptual distortions it causes and the psychological trap it creates, you will be able to marshal your courage, take that leap of faith, and plan your escape. Freedom will be sweet once you do.” – Guy Winch, Ph.D.
Everyone has had a time in their lives when they have felt lonely and depressed. When we feel isolated and alone, our minds turn to self-defeating thoughts that our loneliness is somehow our fault. We see others’ happiness and believe that we will never share in it. By working to overcome loneliness, we show true care for ourselves. Taking even the smallest steps to ease your pain can pay off in amazing ways.
Loneliness and depression are linked to higher mortality rates. Scientists from Brigham Young University have found that loneliness and social isolation can increase mortality risk by as much as 32%. This makes loneliness and depression as damaging to your health as smoking or obesity. Take time to reach out, and you may find that you can lift the cloud and regain a positive outlook on your life.
Three Great Ways to Kick Loneliness and Depression Out of Your Life
1. Work On Your Social Networks
It’s possible to overcome loneliness by strengthening your social connections. Reach out to your friends and loved ones. It may feel awkward at first. You may have the false belief that no one wants to talk to you. It is more likely that your loved ones are simply caught up in the business of their own lives. They may be thinking of you with love and wondering whether you are all right.
Go through your contacts list and pick a few people to talk to. Avoid negative phrasing when you text or email them. (“You may not want to talk to me,” etc.) Be as positive as you can and show some enthusiasm for getting together with them. Try saying “I miss you! Let’s get together soon and catch up. Do you have any time this week?”
If they reject you, try not to take it personally. Move on to someone else in your contacts. You will surely find that someone you know has been thinking about you and that they want to reconnect.
2. Allow Yourself to Feel Your Feelings
While loneliness is overwhelming, remember that it’s just a feeling. It’s not a reflection on you as a person, and it doesn’t have to define your life. Take the time to feel your loneliness and let it pass by. Do this with all of your negative emotions. Bottling them up is more damaging than feeling them and letting them run their course. Try journaling to help you release your feelings. If it makes you feel better, destroy the pages afterward to remove them symbolically from your life.
If you are feeling depressed as well as lonely, you may feel mired in your own negative feelings. Do what you can to distract yourself from these feelings. Exercise is a great way to beat depression. Sweat out your negative feelings and enjoy the effects of endorphins, the mood-boosting chemicals that are released by exercise.
3. Seek Professional Help
When feelings of loneliness and depression take over your life, it’s often necessary to reach out for professional help. Even if you don’t want to take medication, a few sessions with a good counselor may go a long way toward helping you recognize your patterns of self-defeating thought. If you have felt depressed for more than two weeks, that is a sign that you may need professional help.
Talk therapy can be a great outlet for people who are feeling loneliness and depression. With a trusted counselor, you can release your feelings and get feedback on how to defeat the negative thoughts you are having. Friends and family members are not trained to help you through your feelings in the same way as a professional counselor.
Learning how to overcome loneliness is an ongoing process. Reach out to the kind people in your life and ask for help. If you don’t have many social connections, work on making some. Look into shared interest groups online. Join a book club at your local library. Find people who share one of your hobbies. Getting out will help your mood, and you may even make a friend. If one group doesn’t work for you, keep trying.
If you feel trapped by your loneliness and depression, consider reaching out for professional help. Choose your own happiness and you will feel the cloud lifting from your life.