People today could be lonelier than in previous generations, or they could be more willing to admit their loneliness.
Either way, the loneliness I’m talking about can be a problem. This loneliness is not being alone necessarily (social isolation), but feeling alone or lonely (emotional loneliness), according to a report from the Mental Health Foundation in the United Kingdom.
In the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, “lonely” is defined as “being without company,” “cut off from others,” “sad from being alone” and “producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation.”
Having alone time is normal, and some people even enjoy their solitude.
A blog from Psychology Today says that solitude is a choice and a “state of being alone without being lonely.” Thinking, reflection and self-growth can happen during this time and it can be a very positive experience.
However, feeling lonely (whether a person is actually alone or surrounded by people) is not a desired state, considering a person can feel sad and depressed because of this feeling of isolation.
Excessive or chronic loneliness could lead to physical and mental problems.
For example, University of Chicago research suggests that loneliness can increase stress and depression and hinder deep sleep. Daytime functioning can also be disrupted by those who are lonely.
Also, research suggests that people with depression have more loneliness when compared to those who don’t have depression.
In the report from the Mental Health Foundation, there were some shocking statistics that related to women specifically.
For example, of the 42 percent of people who “have felt depressed because we felt alone,” 47 percent were women and only 36 percent were men.
Many people can be affected by loneliness, but there are still ways to cope with the feeling.
One website, www.livestrong.com, suggests leaving the house in pursuit of fun. This can include going to an event, club, or volunteering in order to meet other people and enjoy an activity.
Finding a new hobby to dedicate time and energy to could relieve some feelings of loneliness and even create some feelings of pride or accomplishment.