Loneliness - what is it?

Do you ever feel like no one understands you, and there’s nobody to talk to? Does it feel as if the world is passing you by, leaving you in a state of loneliness and isolation? You are not alone. Anyone can feel loneliness at any time; it could be an occasional itch or can become an overwhelming daily feeling.


But, what is loneliness really? To explore this question, we must understand how loneliness affects the brain, body, and soul. In this article, we will look at the causes of loneliness within our society, examine different coping strategies for managing feelings of being excluded from others, and discuss how counselling clients can use personal resources to build resilience when facing feelings of invulnerability caused by isolation.

What is loneliness and how does it affect people?

Loneliness is an emotion that is felt when a person lacks the feeling of belonging or connection with others. It can manifest itself in the form of sadness, anxiety, depression and a variety of other emotions. Everyone experiences loneliness differently, but some common effects are an inability to enjoy activities that were once enjoyable or difficulty sleeping. People may isolate themselves or feel disconnected from people they once shared meaningful relationships with.

The key to beating loneliness is to first recognise it when it arises and then start reaching out - even if this initially feels foreign. Taking small steps to reconnect with friends and family can make a world of difference and gradually decrease feelings of loneliness.

Common symptoms of loneliness

Symptoms of loneliness often vary from person to person. However, there are some common signs that one may be lonely, such as heightened levels of sadness or listlessness. Other emotional symptoms can include:

  • sudden onset of depression
  • difficulty sleeping or eating
  • a lack of motivation or hopelessness

Physically, those who feel lonely may suffer from unexplained aches and pains, change in activity level or lethargy, as well as irritability and low energy. If one is uncertain if loneliness is the cause of these symptoms, it is always best to speak to a mental health professional for an evaluation. Loneliness should not be ignored and can occur at any age; by recognising the manifestations of loneliness early on, individuals can take the necessary steps to find a resolution.

Why is social support important for loneliness and how do you find it?

Social support truly is the lifesaver of loneliness. It is, after all, one of the best remedies for when we feel as if life has dealt us a cruel hand. The importance of having people in our corner - providing love, understanding and validation - cannot be overstated. But where can you find this vital social support?

Well, here's the good news: it's actually quite simple! All it takes is reaching out to colleagues, friends, or family members and expressing your feelings. Making connections and engaging with people around us helps us to not only feel less alone but also more positive about and grateful for our lives - something we could all benefit from!

How to cope with loneliness

Battling loneliness can be difficult, but there are many ways to bring yourself joy and foster meaningful connections. Start by reaching out to family and old friends. Sharing moments of your day with those close to you can help you feel connected and supported. Other activities that can help ease loneliness include exercising, volunteering, journaling, taking walks in nature and listening to music.

Making a conscious effort to socialise more and do things you enjoy is important for reducing feelings of loneliness. Try new activities or take classes in something you’re passionate about - learning something new is always rewarding! With enough determination and understanding of yourself, it is possible to find ways not just to cope with loneliness but also thrive.

What impact does loneliness have on physical and mental health?

Chronic loneliness can have a devastating effect on an individual's mental and physical health. Studies have shown that depression, a common symptom of loneliness, can greatly reduce the quality of life and damage relationships, the workplace, or any other factors of one's day-to-day life.

In order to better understand how to cope with the immense depression brought about by chronic loneliness, we must educate ourselves on the long-term effects of this emotion, such as increased stress levels and vulnerability to mental health issues like depression and other similar diseases.

Furthermore, it is important to provide support to those suffering from loneliness in order for them to feel understood and connected to their peers. By taking these steps into consideration, we can ensure that individuals affected by loneliness will be well-prepared to live life in a healthier manner amid their tough circumstances.

How can counselling help?

Experiencing feelings of loneliness can be very difficult and, if it becomes overwhelming, professional counselling can provide much-needed help. Seeking counselling to talk through your feelings can provide useful strategies and tools to manage your loneliness. It gives you a safe space to be heard, understand why you may be having certain feelings, and unlock the potential within yourself to overcome them.

A counsellor is an experienced listener who is also professionally trained in providing solutions and helpful advice. Working with a counsellor will help guide you in finding positive ways out of this feeling of loneliness.

Loneliness can have a major impact on both physical and mental health if left unchecked. It is important to find ways to cope with loneliness as soon as its effects become noticeable. Whether that means reaching out for social support or taking part in activities that provide comfort and joy, there are numerous options for addressing the issue. If, however, these steps do not alleviate feelings of isolation and hopelessness, then consulting a mental health professional may be the best course of action. Don't suffer in silence - get in touch with someone who can help today!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Epsom, Surrey, KT17
Written by Karina Godwin
Epsom, Surrey, KT17

I work with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, loneliness, grief, ageing, cultural, identity, relationships and mental health issues.

Being an integrative psychotherapist means I will tailor our sessions to your needs and draw from a range of approaches to work creatively with you. Get in touch.

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