How To Overcome Loneliness

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 01/27/2014 | 12:30 PM EST

Try breaking out the feeling of loneliness with these tips

No one wants to feel or be alone. It’s almost like a human inclination to want to be with others. Whether it’s a significant other, friends or family members, there’s nothing like enjoying the company of others.

Unfortunately, there are more people who suffer from loneliness than we think. Adults, in particular, suffer from loneliness at significant rates - 40 percent to be exact, which is up from 20 percent in the 1980s. There are many factors that play into why people feel lonely. Some self-isolate themselves, whether it be from depression or chronic introversion, while in the case for many older Americans, others become widows or widowers after their partners have deceased. Then, of course, there are the usual singles who are yearning for love, but can’t quite seem to find Mister or Miss Right.

Whatever one’s cause of loneliness, what’s certain is that it can be harmful on both your physical and emotional well-being - not to mention it’s a terrible feeling to have. Loneliness, which is described as a feeling of emptiness or hollowness inside you, can be experienced as a vague feeling that something is not right, a kind of minor emptiness,  or a more severe and intense deprivation and deep pain.

Those without adequate social interaction, particularly elderly people, are twice as likely to die prematurely. Loneliness is just as deadly as smoking and twice as dangerous as obesity, according to a medical study. It is a passive state that many allow to envelop them until things worsen.

To avoid the feeling of loneliness it’s important to first acknowledge that you are indeed lonely. Sometimes one’s pride makes it difficult to admit it to oneself. The best way to curtail loneliness is to actually engage with others. Try to be make yourself vulnerable to someone you trust or love by opening up to them about your feeling of loneliness. You’d be surprised just how embracing and empathetic they’d be.

If for some reason you really don’t have someone to lean on in times of loneliness, consider joining a hobby or activity where you can meet new people, whether it be a community service or social committees in the area. Join the neighborhood committee, community board or, if you’re religious, join a social committee or ministry at the church.

If you’re lonely in the sense of not having a romantic partner, why lay around moping about your loneliness (or your ex) when there’s a whole world out there waiting for you to conquer? You’re only as lonely as your next social interaction, so get out there and mix and mingle.

Loneliness is more of a state of mind than it is a reality. The more you tell yourself that you’re lonely, the more you will feel lonely. Stop feeding it and start living life for you with people who will love and appreciate you for simply being you.

(Photo: Eric Audras/Getty Images)

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