While there are protective factors that can decrease the odds of experiencing loneliness, like self-esteem and perceived social support(Basking et al., 2010;Lee et al., 2018;Eva et al., 2015), on the whole, loneliness impacts people regardless of their age, relationship status, living arrangement, or perceived connectedness (The Lancet, 2018).
Loneliness flies under the radar. Even people whom you believe that there’s no way they could be lonely may have their moments of feeling alone. You can be alone, but it doesn’t have to mean you’re lonely. For instance, people who seek solitude - those who choose to spend time alone - can be perfectly happy. On the other hand, you can also be surrounded by others and still feel lonely. This is because loneliness is subjective. It’s about how we perceive the world around us.2. It’s not you, or them.
When you feel lonely, it’s not unusual to feel failure or shame.Lonely people feel they should be connected, and if they feel disconnected, alienated, then that must mean they’ve made a mistake – or that they’ve been pushed into this solitude by fate or by something they’ve done.
When you’re lonely, you see the world differently (Spithoven et al., 2017). People who are lonely don’t realize that when someone can’t commit to a plan, it has nothing to do with them. It’s so easy to think that family and friends just don’t see you as a priority or important enough for them to be as connected as you’d wish they would be. But this perspective is often just not true.3. The smallest actions can make all the difference
The simplest gestures can have an enormous impact (Hooker et al., 2018). A photo sent from a loved one, or a quick check-in to see what you’re up to can lift your mood for the day and help to light the way out of loneliness.
The solution can be so simple, but in order to arrive at it we need to take that first step in saying or showing thatI could really use a friend right now. In a world where it is so seemingly easy to make connections, we would be remiss to help address what’s separating loneliness from social wellbeing.
Like any feeling, loneliness can be hard to explain. There has yet to be a sustained dialogue around loneliness to the same extent that one has emerged around mental health in recent years.
At Carenote, we understand that feelinglonely is hard to admit out loud. While we know loneliness is a real problem, we also know that there are solutions that are not out of reach. We’re here to help start the discussion around loneliness to make that first step of recognizing or coming forward with loneliness just a bit easier, and to show how a simple phone call, a “how are you,” can help build connections that make us all better off.