Loneliness can occur for many reasons, whether you have people in your life or not. For example, someone might feel lonely after moving to a new city, breaking up with a partner, or growing apart from old friends, among other reasons. Speaking with a professional counselor might ease loneliness and allow you a safe person to vent to. You do not have to have a mental illness to talk to a therapist, but loneliness can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying concern, so talking to a provider may prove beneficial.
Consider online therapy if you're concerned about your emotional health or want someone to listen. Online counseling can allow you to receive care in a healthy way while helping you feel less lonely. This game plan can be a crucial step in taking care of your mental and physical health.
Why Am I Lonely?
Self-Esteem And Perceptions
It may not matter how many people you have in your life; loneliness means feeling isolated due to your perceptions of connections with others, your self-esteem, or a depressed mood. Many individuals may feel lonely in a romantic relationship, with similar interests, or in public. Regardless of why you experience social isolation, pay attention to what your emotions tell you. Understanding the root of your loneliness could be the key to increased happiness.
Depression And Social AnxietyTwo common mental illnesses that might cause feelings of loneliness include social anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. Depression might cause an urge to withdraw or feelings that others no longer like you. It might come from feeling unlovable, not having the energy to socialize, or a sense of overwhelming sadness. Social anxiety might cause loneliness if you are afraid of making friends, socializing, or going out in public but crave social connection and don't know how to find it. In all of these cases, a counselor may be beneficial.
Many individuals experience a loss of skill in certain interests if they don't frequently practice them. This phenomenon might also occur with socialization. The longer you spend time without connecting with humans, the more difficult it might feel to know how to put yourself out there. You may have lost touch with the art of making conversation or knowing what to do in social situations, increasing a feeling of loneliness and reminding you of the importance of meaningful connections.
Life Changes Or Location
Feeling lonely or alone might also occur after a significant life transition. Maybe you have grown apart emotionally from friends or have moved to a new city where you haven't made friends yet. Living in rural areas with few people has been linked to loneliness, isolation, and higher rates of depression. Although time and more opportunities to connect with people may benefit you, speaking to a professional, like a therapist, may also be valuable. Therapists might also know about local events, social causes, or groups you can join in on. Some people find that support groups are beneficial for getting rid of loneliness.
You may also consider getting more involved in your community through volunteering or picking up a new interest that encourages interaction with others. If you're in a rural area, consider starting a local group, going to the local library, or meeting people online.
Some people might feel lonely if they have several shallow or casual relationships and no close ones, impacting their lives. For example, a person who attends job-related parties with acquaintances but has no one to talk to about personal challenges might feel that they don't have "real" friends. They might assume that they're not being true to themselves or putting forward a "false" self to feel accepted. Over time, doing so might make an individual feel that other people don't know them, and it may contribute to lonely thoughts or a feeling of emptiness.
With social media being a significant part of our world, many people might compete or post false images to feel connected. Friendships might exist primarily online for some, which could cause feelings of loneliness or difficulty connecting in person. In addition, studies have found that loneliness is linked to increased risk of negative social media experiences.
At times, a feeling of loneliness may indicate a poor self-image, affecting both your physical health and mental well-being. If you struggle to feel lovable, likable, or engaging, you might feel that others see you that way too. In addition, some individuals with identity issues might feel they rely on others for their self-worth. If others cannot provide validation or care, they may feel they are not worthy of social connection, which could cause loneliness.
When you have a healthy sense of self, you may feel comfortable by yourself more often, taking care of your body and mind. You might also have the ability to know that other people's opinions of you do not define your worth. If you struggle with self-worth or identity, a therapist can offer guidance. They can teach you to engage differently with your thoughts and feelings of loneliness, challenge negative, self-defeating beliefs, and develop a stronger sense of personal values and goal-driven behavior.
In addition, for those struggling with self-esteem due to an insecure attachment style, therapy can help you develop safe patterns in relationships to feel more empowered through self-love.
How Online Counseling Might Help
If you feel embarrassed about your loneliness, know you're not alone. Being lonely can be part of being human, and many people have felt this way before. However, support is available if your loneliness is chronic or feels unbearable.
Speaking with a professional therapist can give you research-based insight into your feelings and gain compassionate support. Therapists are not there to judge you and can provide validation, kindness, and understanding. They can also help you understand why you might be feeling lonely and develop techniques to address it.
Speaking with a therapist such as an assistant professor in psychology, can also help you practice interacting with others, talk about yourself, and feel comfortable with letting others get to know you. At that moment, you'll experience an increased sense of belonging and support. It's important to remind yourself that therapy is a safe space to be heard and understood.
Online counseling has unique benefits you might not find in traditional in-person therapy. For example, it can be challenging for those living in rural locations to find a therapist. You can have several options with online therapy and attend counseling from home. In addition, some platforms offer unlimited messaging with your therapist, allowing you to stay connected as needed, unlike traditional therapy, which may feel more lonely and disconnected.
Online Counseling Options
Several online counseling platforms are available, and personal practice therapists in your area might also offer telehealth services. If you're interested in getting started, you can try a popular platform like BetterHelp, which offers over 30,000 therapists. Through the platform, you can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions and meet with a therapist once a week, with messaging in between sessions.
In addition, a recent study found that online therapy was especially effective in treating loneliness, isolation, and depression. Study participants felt they were respected and could connect with their therapist on the same level as they might have in person. If you're feeling alone, talking to someone might help. Your therapist can be a stable force in your life and support you through challenging emotions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are a few frequently asked questions about loneliness.
How Can I Survive Without Support?
Being alone can be challenging. However, it may not be forever, and support is available in the form of therapy. You can also work on feeling safe and comfortable on your own through the following activities:
- Practice activities you enjoy
- Take yourself on "self-dates"
- Partake in activities that make you feel confident
- Talk to people at local events
- Attend a singles dating event
- Join a club
- Try a mindfulness practice
- Tell someone how you feel
- Make a plan to increase your social skills, whether that's joining a group, talking to one person a week, or deciding to have a roommate
If you feel you don't have a support system in your family, you might consider forming a "chosen family," a term for a family you create through meaningful friendships and connections. Although it can take time to find healthy relationships, a therapist may be able to help you develop the skills to do so.
Is It Okay To Want To Be Isolated?
Some people want to be alone, and that's okay. Some people might be introverted or feel more stressed through social interaction, which can be normal. If others push you to interact when you're uncomfortable, set a boundary and let them know you can't always be around. Having your own space can be healthy. However, if you start to feel lonely, it may be beneficial to increase your social interaction to a level that feels comfortable.
How Can I Be Alone But Not Isolated?
Many people may live alone but not feel isolated or lonely. A few ways you might increase your confidence in being alone could include:
- Practicing self-confidence exercises like self-focused mindfulness or self-affirmations
- Attending events and wearing an outfit that makes you feel attractive
- Going on casual dates without getting into a relationship
- Exploring nature and connecting with your surroundings
- Seeing alone time as an opening for self-care
- Speaking to a therapist
Is There A Website For Thoughts Of Loneliness?
You can use several websites to make friends or talk about loneliness. Consider searching on your device's app store or using your preferred search engine. You can also try an online therapy site, social forum, or venting forum. Some people might use dating apps to meet new people and go on casual dates. Some dating apps also offer a friendship option, where you can swipe for new friends.
How Do You Make New Friends?
Finding new friends can be challenging as an adult. Consider trying the following strategies:
- Go to a place where groups might gather, such as libraries, gaming shops, or an arcade, and start a conversation.
- Go to local events that you're interested in and talk to people.
- Join a local club.
- Enroll in university and join or start a club.
- Join a music group like an orchestra, choir, or band.
- Go to concerts and talk to other people.
- Use apps or websites that allow you to meet friends or have casual dates.
- Join a social media group.
- Join a social cause or volunteer.
What Are The Benefits Of Living Alone?
You might find the following benefits through living alone:
- Independence to decorate your space how you want
- Appreciation of social connections
- More time to practice hobbies or self-care
- A safe space
- No forced interactions when you are feeling anti-social
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How do lonely people behave?
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