Loneliness is an emotion that is unique to each individual. Because it has no single common cause the prevention and treatment of loneliness can vary dramatically from person-to-person.
Loneliness can affect your health a number of ways:
- Heart problems
- Increased drug abuse risk
- High stress levels
- Decreased memory
Loneliness can cause people to feel alone, empty and unwanted. As loneliness impacts peoples state of mind, it makes it more difficult for people to find connections with others. Loneliness, according to many experts, is not necessarily about being alone, instead, if people feel alone and isolated, then that is how loneliness plays into peoples’ state of mind.
Contributing factors to loneliness include:
- Physical isolation
- Moving to a new location
- Death of someone close
- Symptom of depression
- Low self-esteem
Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health, including:
- Alcoholism and drug abuse
- Altzheimer’s disease progression
- Anti-social behaviour
- Cardiovascular disease and stroke
- Depression and suicide
- Having a lower cognitive function
- Increase stress levels
- Poor decision-making
Lonely adults often get less exercise than those that are not lonely. The diet is unhealthy and the sleep is less efficient and they suffer from more daytime fatigue. There Has also been research to suggest that loneliness has increased amongst people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Loneliness can be overcome. It does require a conscious effort to make a change. In the long run making a change can make people happier, healthier and enable them to impact others in a positive way.
Here are some ways to prevent loneliness:
- Community service – these are great opportunities to meet people and start new friendships. ● Focus on developing quality relationships- try to spend time with people who share similar attitudes, interest and values with you.
- Expecting the best – lonely people often expect rejection, so focus on the positive thoughts in social interactions.
- Recognise that loneliness is a sign and that something needs to change.
- Understand the effects of loneliness on your life, as there are physical and mental repercussions for loneliness.
If you’re concerned about the impact of loneliness on you or someone else’s, there are many charities and support groups in addition to Sikh Helpline, which can provide help and advice. These include:
- British Red Cross
- Campaign to end loneliness
- Marmalade trust