Do you feel lonely?
At this time of year there can be so many expectations built around winter and the run up to Christmas. There are the romanticised images of festive parties, families getting together, friends and couples sharing intimate moments, giving gifts and enjoying the cosiness of winter. However, for many this is a lonely time of year.
Loneliness itself is not a mental health condition, however, it can often go hand in hand with others. For example, loneliness can lead to depression and depression can feed loneliness. It is also not the same as being alone. There is nothing wrong with time alone, if that is something that you feel OK with, and loneliness can hit even if you are in a crowded room. It may be difficult to understand why you are feeling this way, but it is nothing to be ashamed of. It may be useful to look at loneliness the same as hunger or tiredness. Our body shows us signs of hunger so that we know we need food and tiredness, so that we know we need sleep. It may show us loneliness so that we know we need to develop new kinds of connections, our emotional nutrition.
Types of connections
You may wonder why you feel so lonely even if you have people to talk to, you may even appear to have lots of friends and loved ones, but what type of connections are you making with them? In this day and age, a lot of communication is done online and we share information with large numbers of people at once, but what we really might need is connection on a deeper level. Even with friends and family in real life, are you sharing emotionally and discussing what is going on inside? It might be, that even though lots of people know who you are, you don’t feel like you are connecting on a true level. Opening up about any difficulties you are having can bring you closer.
Comparing yourself to others
It’s not just the television that gives us pictures of people’s lives, now that we have so much social media it can be easy to compare ourselves to others. It may seem like everybody around you is out having fun or is blissfully happy.You may feel like the only one who is struggling with loneliness, or that somehow you can’t achieve the same as them. It’s important to keep in mind that not everything is always as it seems online, and that you are not alone in having difficulties.
It can feel so difficult to reach out when you are anxious or depressed, but the best way to deal with loneliness is to connect with others. Find activity groups, attend events that might not involve too much talking at first, or tell somebody that you aren’t coping. There are people you can call, or get in touch with a counsellor to talk through how you are feeling. Making this open connection is the first step to moving forward. Once you practice real connections with another, you can build confidence and take it out into the world. There will be many others looking to form connections in just the same way. You are not alone.
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