Human beings are not meant to be alone. As infants, our brains need human interaction for healthy neurological development, which has a lasting impact on our emotional health years down the road. No wonder solitary confinement is considered a form of punishment. It deprives of our essential need to interact, connect, and experience life together. Not doing enough of that can be painful, sad, and downright soul-crushing.
So it comes as no surprise that feeling lonely is one of the biggest precursors to depression. It can bring the blues on a person who moves to a new place and hardly knows anyone there. Or the person who literally knows everyone (but doesn’t really know anyone). Even the person who appears to have every material possession they could possibly want in life.
Because loneliness can easily spiral into depression, it’s definitely something to be aware of and remedy before it starts to affect our emotional well-being.
Here is a short but comprehensive list of suggestions on how to remedy the situation along with some useful reflections to consider:
- Remember quality over quantity. Years from now, none of us is going to look back on our lives and reminisce over how many Facebook friends or Instagram followers we have. However, the connections we had with people and how they made us feel will always remain with us and in us. So focus on fostering meaningful relationships. Consider joining an interest group, volunteering for a cause you are passionate about or attending an event that is totally you. These can be ways to meet people you can have a deep rather than superficial connection with. They are the ones you’ll call up when you’re bored, lonely, or even sad.
- Go where the people are. Sometimes just being around people helps fend off the lonely blues. Coffee shops, libraries, and shopping centers tend to buzz with life energy. But be careful not to go somewhere that causes you to feel alone in the crowd. Having that lonely even though you’re not physically alone feeling can be worse than actually being alone. So choose your places wisely.
- Evaluate the meaningful connections you already have and reconnect. Sometimes you don’t have to look very far. You might already have deep connections right under your nose. You’ve just been doing a terrible job nurturing those relationships. Hold on to them because they are priceless.
Last but not least…
- Have meaningful communication. Pick up the phone or meet face to face. It’s not so much a matter of merely connecting with people but more so how you connect. Social media, such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, are great to keep in touch and get updates on friends and family. But, once upon a time, the only ways people could communicate were either meeting face to face. Then came sitting down and writing thoughtful letters to each other, or (later on) picking up the phone to talk. Sadly, social media has made us lazy about investing time to have meaningful communication that leads to more meaningful relationships. This is actually making us feel more lonely than ever, even though we are more connected. The nature of our communication is leading to more solitary and isolated lives and less community.