Living alone can be acceptable to many, even satisfying to philosophers such as Henry David Thoreau, but for the rest of us- not so much.
Robert L. Leahy Ph.D., “As John Cacioppo, a researcher in the field of loneliness, points out, loneliness is on the rise — from 11 percent to 20 percent in the 1970s and 1980s to 40 percent to 45 percent in 2010.” So you are not alone in feeling lonely.
Have you had the experience of feeling lonely like there is no one around and no one to talk to, as you sink into a state of sadness or anxiety that you fear you will never get over? Does such a feeling overwhelm you at times?
Loneliness can lead to excessive drinking or binge eating, to suppress those unpleasant feelings. It can lead to depression and rumination, as you dwell on the question, “Why am I alone?”
But having a strategy to deal with loneliness can be an important safeguard against depression, substance abuse, or even making bad choices for partners.” ( Robert L. Leahy Ph.D., Living with Loneliness, Psychology Today)
The Answer is People, People, People.
“The support you get from your social connections can add to your feelings of meaning and purpose in life. These, in turn, add to your resilience. Happy, resilient people tend to be more connected to the people around them. Resilient people know that they can depend on the strength of their family and friends when the going gets tough.” (Web Md, Social Connections – Topic Overview)
According to Web Md, there are many ways you can start building positive relationships:
- Invite a friend who makes you laugh, and go to a funny movie.
- Send an encouraging email or text message to someone who’s going through a hard time.
- Look for a faith community that shares your views. It may also have its own organized social groups.
- Call a food bank or hospital and ask about their volunteer programs.
- You can also connect with people through social media on the Internet.
Mitch Prinstein gives another great benefit of having friends:
First, the bad news
“Recent evidence suggests that being unpopular can be hazardous to our health. In fact, it might even kill us.”
Now, the good news
Popular People Live Longer
“Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University, consolidated data from 148 investigations published over 28 years on the effects of social relationships, collectively including over 308,000 participants between the ages of 6 and 92 from all over the world. In each study, investigators measured the size of participants’ networks, the number of their friends, whether they lived alone, and the extent to which they participated in social activities. Then they followed each participant for months, years and even decades to track his or her mortality rate.
The results revealed that being unpopular — feeling isolated, disconnected, lonely — predicts our lifespan. More surprising is just how powerful this effect can be. Dr. Holt-Lunstad found that people who had larger networks of friends had a 50 percent increased chance of survival by the end of the study they were in. And those who had good-quality relationships had a 91 percent higher survival rate. This suggests that being unpopular increases our chance of death more strongly than obesity, physical inactivity or binge drinking. In fact, the only comparable health hazard is smoking.” (Mitch Prinstein (@mitchprinstein), a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the author of the forthcoming “Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World,” from which this essay was adapted, in New York Times Sunday Review)
Leahy concludes, “If you have these or other negative thoughts, then you are like millions of other people who feel stopped in their tracks by loneliness.”
There is a therapy for this. It is termed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (also known by the abbreviation as CBT) is described by fellow mental health professional, Ben Martin Psy.D of Psyche Central as a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving.
Most professionals would agree, its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. It is used to help treat a wide range of issues in a person’s life, from sleeping difficulties or relationship problems to drug and alcohol abuse or anxiety and depression. CBT works by changing people’s attitudes and thereby focusing on the thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes that we hold (our cognitive processes) and how this relates to the way we behave, as a way of dealing with emotional problems.” (Matthew Hunt, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy In a Nutshell, CounselingonDemand.com)
And this is where Counseling on Demand comes in.
We are online at www.CounselingonDemand.com
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