According to the Labor Bureau of Statistics, for the first time since 1976, the number of singles is at 50.2 percent. Single people, for the first time, outnumber married people. People often associate loneliness with being single, but loneliness is something a person can feel or experience whether they are single or in a relationship.
More than implications on your relationship status, loneliness is a big deal as far as your health is concerned. According to researchers at the University of North Carolina, loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke. Another study cites that chronic loneliness can lead to a shorter life by as much as 14 percent. Loneliness, in the long term, can have a greater impact on you than obesity, dealing with poverty, and your overall well-being.
The good news is that we are living longer, but this is also having an impact on us mentally, emotionally and physically as we have more time to deal with loneliness. That being said, there are some factors that can greatly increase your feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Living alone, feeling as though you don’t have a support network in place, or being in a relationship in which you don’t feel supported
- Being isolated from others or having limited interaction with your relatives and friends especially as you become older and enter the retirement phase of your life
“It should be as important to encourage adolescents and young adults to build broad social relationships and skills for interacting with others as it is to eat healthy and be physically active,” according to Dr. Kathleen Mullan Harris, of UNC and the Carolina Population Center.
Getting involved in your community.
Doing some volunteer work at a homeless shelter, food depository, women’s shelter, local school, hospital or library can do wonders for helping you connect with others.
When you are helping someone else, this is often the biggest way to connect back to a happier state of mind.
Exercise can be a wonderful way to boost your mental state.
If a tight budget is holding you back from joining a local health club, utilize the park districts in your area to sign up for activities.
Often, there are many free or inexpensive programs. Some of these programs include workouts in a gym, swimming classes or other indoor and outdoor hobbies and activities.
Journal how you feel.
Putting things down in black and white on paper help them to feel less daunting.
Write about what makes you lonely and then write down what you are going to do to feel happier and less lonely. Then most importantly, put it into action.
Find time to connect with family, friends and loved ones.
It can be difficult to get out and even want to mingle with others if you are feeling sad or lonely. Perhaps you have lost a spouse after many years of marriage, or a good friend and the last thing you want to do is socialize with others. But, social connection is one of the best ways to cope with loss and ease your grieving.
Try looking at each social activity as a chance to do something to take you outside of your normal day-to-day routine, get to know new people and build new friendships with those who can be supportive and encouraging.
Each of us will experience loneliness at some point in our lives. The key is to figure out how to change your perspective and create excitement in your life.
Loneliness doesn’t have to be endless, it can be the lesson that helps you find new ways to connect with others, enjoy life and help you prioritize what is most important.