Chances are that you’ve felt lonely at some point in your life, perhaps especially now amidst the reduced social interaction measures due to COVID-19.
Loneliness occurs when social needs are not being met and, basically, the feeling of loneliness is your body’s way of saying ‘I would like some social interaction please’. This feeling often occurs to motivate you to fulfill those social needs. It’s important to note that loneliness isn’t just a feeling of unhappiness, it’s a condition that your body is in.
Loneliness can make you feel sensitive, and unsafe, and goes hand-in-hand with poor mood, anxiety, and lower self-esteem, and while loneliness may feel similar to depression, they are in fact different conditions. By understanding what loneliness is, you can better understand what your body is trying to tell you!
Loneliness is complex and can be caused by a lot of things; however, a lack of social interaction or meaningful relationships is the most frequent cause. The good thing is that there are many ways that you can help alleviate your loneliness!
- The first, and maybe the most obvious, is to spend time with others. Spending time with loved family and friends is one of the most effective ways to reduce the sense of loneliness.
- Additionally, giving a sense of purpose to a social interaction has been found to boost its effects on diminishing loneliness. Purposes for meeting could include getting coffee or dinner with somebody close to you, or having a game or movie night. If meeting in-person is not permissible due to current social distancing or isolation regulations, online phone or video chats have been found to be effective at reducing loneliness as well.
- You don’t necessarily have to spend time with others to reduce your loneliness! There are solitary activities which you can easily implement that are effective at alleviating loneliness too, such as gardening and reading. These activities allow you to spend time constructively and are perfect for situations in which spending time with others is not possible.
As mentioned above, loneliness is your body’s way of communicating to you something that it needs: some form of social interaction and meaning. There are a lot of things that you can do to help relieve your loneliness, many of which are very immediately accessible. Consider exploring the different options and find what works for you!
Blog post by Logan Hedberg, Volunteer
Cacioppo, John, et al. “Loneliness within a Nomological Net: An Evolutionary Perspective.” Science Direct, 2006, www-sciencedirect-com.ezproxy.macewan.ca/science/article/pii/S0092656606000055
Pettigrew S, & Roberts M. (2008). Addressing loneliness in later life. Aging & Mental Health, 12(3), 302–309. https://doi.org/10.1080/13607860802121084
Marchini, S., Zaurino, E., Bouziotis, J., Brondino, N., Delvenne, V., & Delhaye, M. (2020). Study of resilience and loneliness in youth (18–25 years old) during the covid‐19 pandemic lockdown measures. Journal of Community Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.22473