Loneliness is increasingly being acknowledged as a hazard to human health comparable to obesity and smoking. According to the Harvard Review, “Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.”
You may imagine loneliness as sitting at home alone watching Netflix and eating ice cream. However, there are many different types of loneliness that may happen in life, and not all of them have to do with separation. When surrounded by others or going through a transition in life, it’s possible to feel lonely.
When emotional storms hit, such as death of a loved one, job loss, or going through a divorce, instead of being in a community we decide to suffer alone. People experiencing loneliness are more likely to express dissatisfaction with meaningful connections they have with family, friends, and neighbors. Loneliness hurts, yet we feel weak facing it.
Here are a few different types of loneliness that happens in life and what action steps to take on relieve the loneliness factor.
Three types of loneliness
1. Transitional Loneliness – Major changes can generate a feeling of loneliness, even if it’s positive. When coping with the adjustment period, acknowledge the feeling and be aware that it shall be temporary.
2. Family Support Loneliness – If your family is still around and aren’t supportive or in contact with you in a meaningful way, don’t be startled if you feel super lonely. Explore groups where you can gain a community to develop lifelong friendships that empower you to create a family of your own. Family bonds may not be the greatest, but you don’t have to be lonely.
3. Social Media Loneliness –
Social media can create a deep feeling of isolation, even though it’s supposed to connect us. If you find yourself endlessly scrolling for hours or checking your notifications every five minutes, learn to reduce your time on social media. Build connections with friends and family in real life social gatherings. Social media may seem like a fun way to virtually connect but it should not leave you feeling inadequate.
Whether you’re feeling abandoned, grieving a significant loss, or going through a divorce, reach out for support or call a therapist. It’s possible to gain momentum in building a new life or building an in-person community group to create lifelong friendships. Remember, loneliness doesn’t mean forever; be gentle with yourself as you process your feelings.