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Antidote to Loneliness

By Annette Demeny

Loneliness is an experience that has been around since the beginning of time and it’s something every single one of us deals with from time to time. It can occur in response to a transition in your life such as the death of a loved one, losing or changing jobs, a divorce, or moving to a new town. Then add in the current governmental and health entities who are encouraging the public to self-isolate and social distance as we attempt to the curb the impact of COVID-19. These social distancing efforts have led to working from home; remote or online education; cancellation of sporting, entertainment, and professional events; and, closures of gyms, parks, churches and much more. Mental health factors, such as loneliness and depression, can become issues as we limit the social interaction that most of us have become accustomed to on a daily basis. Add on another layer during these uncertain times with people coping with the stress of losing their jobs, declining health from not being able to go to the gym or even be outside, or perhaps the loss of a loved one, can lead to a sense of hopelessness. Loneliness and isolation can also elevate depression and anxiety in those who are already suffering from underlying mental health issues.

 

What are the signs?

There may be subtle signs, there may be obvious signs, or there may be no signs at all. Sadness, a loss of the ability to sleep, hostility, sudden weight gain/loss, constant fatigue, or any number of unexplained behavioral changes are all signs of loneliness or depression. If you’re unsure, one of the best things you can do is simply ask. For someone who is lonely, you asking can make them feel important and cared about.

Once you become aware of loneliness in your friend or loved one’s life, you may be confused of what to do. But there are some actions you can take to cheer up just about anyone.  Below are a few great ways to be a part of the antidote to loneliness.

 

  • Do something small. Ask your friend/family member to go grab coffee. When they order, secretly write down what they like. Next time, you can pick up their favorite coffee and show up to their house with it in hand. This simple act of kindness will make them feel important by you remembering their favorite coffee.

 

  • Take the initiative to reach out to call or text. When I’m having a bad day, it feels good to receive an inspiring text or quote from someone who took the time to send it to me. This doesn’t take a minute but can have a huge impact!

 

  • Listen. Being a good listener involves more than just hearing—it takes work, and if you do it right, it could make that lonely person feel incredibly valued. When they’re speaking, do your best not to interrupt them—wait your turn to speak. Don’t let your mind drift to what you want to say next, either. Remain in the moment while listening, and focus on what the other person is saying. It’s a powerful tool that makes a person feel valued and heard.

 

  • Be that joyful friend. Negativity, sadness, and loneliness can easily spread—likewise, so can happiness, joy, and positive energy. Make sure that you’re a positive influence. Inspire them by talking about things that excite you and could possibly do the same for them. If the conversation begins to turn negative, turn it around. Don’t let your friend spiral into any talk of negativity. If it does happen, do your best by replacing the negative thoughts with more positive ones. It takes practice changing mindset from negative to positive but be that steadfast friend to help your friend/family member.

 

  • Become a part of a support group. Often times, it’s difficult for someone who is battling loneliness or depression to muster up the drive or energy to attend a support group. Offer to attend the first couple of meetings with your friend/family member. Loneliness often stems from low self-esteem so by you taking the initiative to go with them, it shows that they’re important and so is the idea of being a part of a support group.

 

Being connected to others socially is considered a fundamental human need. It crucial for both our well-being and overall survival. Community is an act of courage, now more than ever. Be a part of the solution…bring cheer and happiness to the life of another.

 

Struggling? You’re not alone. Reach out. Your life matters.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-8255

 

SFY Sources

The Jason Foundation

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

 

SFY Recommends

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

 

 

What’s the simple act of kindness that you’re planning to share with someone today? 

 

 

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