Research indicates that nearly fifty percent of all Americans say they are lonely. Studies define loneliness as the actual number of friends or social contacts a person has.
Loneliness is the emotional state created when people have fewer social contacts and meaningful relationship than they would like – relationships that make them feel known and understood.
As a matter of fact loneliness is a worldwide growing epidemic.
Unfortunately the impact of loneliness can be devastating and can lead to adverse health consequences including depression, poor sleep, anxiety, and impaired immunity.
Chronic feelings of loneliness can lead to the release of stress hormones, particularly cortisol. This fight-or-flight hormone helps us remain alert during times of danger; however, long-term stress signaling can lead to high blood pressure, a weakened immune system and increased inflammation.
Research indicates that loneliness may lead to unhealthy habits including addictive and unhealthy behaviors for example gambling, overeating and not exercising.
Finding solutions to chronic loneliness can feel daunting at first but it is not impossible to overcome. Research indicates addressing the negative thoughts underlying loneliness in the first place seems to help combat loneliness.
In addition, addressing negative thoughts of self-worth and perceptions of others might be of benefit as well.
Another solution to combating lonely might be found in participating in community and social groups. Being engaged in positive activities such as volunteering or joining a community choir can lead to positive mental health effects and reduce feelings of loneliness.
If you are lonely it is important that you reach out to a supportive therapist that will help you explore your feelings, address your concerns and come up with a plan.