5 Ways to Face the Dreaded ‘L’ Word.

Let me ask you this…..

How many Facebook friends do you have?

How many utility friends do you have?

And finally how many real friends do you have?

There is a quiet, health epidemic spreading across the Western world right now and the word begins with ‘L’. Unfortunately it’s not love but loneliness.

We all dread loneliness, we hate to admit we’re lonely and we tend to look down on people who are lonely.

The challenge we face right now is that our lives are so busy they afford us little time to forge meaningful relationships. Family and work demands take up most of our time and recent research has revealed that these can be some of the loneliest environments that we can find ourselves in. In these everyday situations often our emotional needs and deep sense for connection go unmet.

The strange irony is that while we have never been more connected, thanks to technology, in the last decade the number of single households has risen dramatically and one in three people over the age of 45 report feeling chronically lonely. It also seems to affect men much more than women with a recent UK study reporting that men make up 57% of people living alone between the ages of 45-64.

One of the biggest issue related to loneliness is its long-term health effects. We evolved to be social creatures where our very survival was dependent upon strong social bonds. When we don’t feel that connection a stress response is triggered. The stress hormone cortisol is released and over time this can cause an inflammatory response in the body leading to neurodegenerative disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. A 2010 study by AARP on social relationships argued that loneliness is ranked as high a risk for mortality as smoking.

So what can be done?

Loneliness often leads to social isolation so here a five ways to help you stay connected your social network and wider community.

1.Tame your inner critic.
Often we have a voice inside our head telling us that we’re unattractive, not very interesting and have nothing to say. Pay attention to these negative thoughts and begin to replace them with more compassionate thoughts.

2. Be pro- active.
Put yourself out there and take a risk. Invite someone out for lunch, a walk or a coffee.

3. Get involved.
Think about your interests and explore if there is a community project or a volunteer programme that is looking for someone with your skill set. Alternatively, check out an online social site such as MeetUp to see if there is a group who share your interests or hobbies.

4. Practice emotional honesty.
Open up and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Whether it’s with your partner or close friends, try to move beyond superficial conversations and start to share your feelings, desires, dreams and worries.

5. Consider therapy.
Counselling can be a productive way of exploring self-defeating patterns of relationship behaviour. It can help you change your thinking and explore negative feelings you have abut yourself.


Douglas Channing



Category : Blog & Communication & Depression & Lonliness & Mood & Relationships & Stress Reduction

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