Epidemic of loneliness
More than ever in our history people are living on their own, add in the pandemic and there is a growing epidemic of people experiencing loneliness. Our feelings of loneliness are sometimes taken as a character flaw adding a layer of shame, and contributing to our silence, isolation and fear of reaching out for support.
The feeling of loneliness is the discomfort we feel when our relational experiences do not meet our level of desire for connection. Loneliness can occur because of our situation, such as living on our own, pandemic, divorce, loss of a loved one or unfulfilling relationships. Internal and psychological factors such as depression, and beliefs about self and low self-esteem can also contribute to feeling lonely.
Like many of our emotions that feel uncomfortable, the feeling of loneliness is a call for compassion and attention. Our felt sense of being lonely is our systems recognition of our human desire to connect, to be seen and to see. And how beautiful is that. Your heart is calling out for love.
Impact of loneliness on well-being
Loneliness has been linked to several adverse outcomes and risks factors:
Creating a new relationship with loneliness
Start by recognizing that loneliness is a universal condition most people will experience at some point in their lives.
There are concrete effective steps that help combat loneliness, such as: getting a pet, volunteering, joining a group, sharing a hobby or skill, and establishing an exercise routine.
If the above are not logistical or practical possibilities or feel too hard then start from a place that is gentler and more supportive of yourself.
It has been another challenging year for many. Individuals continue to struggle with grief, loneliness, and isolation as they remain separated from loved ones, places and friends that bring joy and renew spirits. And others are struggling with working long hours, the disconnection of online learning and experiencing worries about the future. It is my hope that amongst the challenges there were some moments of gentleness and gratitude, of reflection and peace, and of connection and love.
As we look ahead to the coming year, what are the hopes and dreams you have for yourself? Have you taken pause to reflect, to remember to dream? Are there thoughts and patterns that no longer serve you that you would you like to change? Would you like to stop living from a place of fear and open your heart to give and receive love? Is there an attitude of scarcity that is keeping you small and afraid? What does your inner wisdom know is possible, but your inner critic/ego voice whispers can’t be done or is too much?
Whatever your struggle, you don't need to go through it on your own. It can help to talk about it and have someone really hear us. Sometimes we need to learn new coping skills or help in figuring out how what happened to us affects how we think, feel and behave. Sometimes we need help to heal from things we have done or things that were done to us.
There are many reasons individuals seek counselling. Clients seek counselling when they are struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, or when they can't stop the negative self-talk about their self-worth and abilities. Individuals seek counselling when they are feeling stuck, worried, upset, frustrated, uncertain about their purpose, or experiencing a significant life event.
My passions are at the intersections of hope, curiosity and courage. Hope is the seed that when tended can blossom into a life transformed. Curiosity is the spark that shines a light on the path, and courage is the strength to take the journey.
You are here because the seed of hope is already alive within you.
Wishing you peace and love for the New Year.
Registered Therapeutic Counsellor in Nanaimo, B.C.