Throughout the natural world, many different species of animals instinctively gather in groups, which suggests that belonging evolved for a beneficial reason. As a result, social animals – including humans – become profoundly unhappy when they lack support and connections. Loneliness has become an invisible health crisis in America as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit people’s ability to safely gather in public.
Health Impacts of Loneliness
People who struggle to form and maintain strong relationships with others might feel withdrawn and hopeless because they don’t have anyone to talk to about their feelings. Other than being emotionally distressing, loneliness can impact your mental and physical well-being by making you more vulnerable to issues like depression, anxiety, drug addiction and cognitive decline.
Researchers have found that the brain regions responsible for processing physical pain are the same as the ones that help manage the emotional turmoil of social exclusion, indicating that loneliness doesn’t only cause psychological stress – it can also hurt your body.
If you’re lonely, here are some strategies you can try to make new friends and improve your quality of life.
Volunteering for an organization you support can help you meet other people in your community who support a similar cause. Besides combating loneliness, volunteering can improve your mood through an effect known as the “helper’s high.” Plus, working with those who are less fortunate than you can help you feel more grateful for all the privileges you have in your life.
If volunteering appeals to you, here are some activities you could try.
- Read to seniors in a nursing home
- Help at a food bank or homeless shelter
- Tutor children in a school subject that has always come naturally to you
- Socialize the dogs and cats in an animal shelter
- Do phone banking for a political candidate
2. Join an Online Support Group
Because loneliness is so common, many people look to find new friendships online. You can find people with similar interests by joining Reddit or Meetup groups focused on your passions. While you should be cautious about revealing too many details of your identity online, you can still build a genuine rapport with those you meet on the internet. However, if spending time online is making you feel more isolated than connected, it could signify a need to log off and try being more present in the real world.
3. Adopt a Pet
Pets offer a range of mental health benefits, including preventing loneliness. When you adopt a pet, you’ll have a friend for life. While keeping a pet healthy and happy is a significant responsibility, you will benefit from unconditional love and become more compassionate by understanding another living being’s needs and wants.
4. Practice Self-Care
Some people have perfected the art of being alone without being lonely. What’s their secret? Self-care. If you’re experiencing loneliness and feeling sad, taking better care of yourself is a strategy for improving your mood. Exercising, eating a balanced diet, spending time outdoors and getting enough high-quality, restful sleep will benefit you by giving you more energy and self-confidence.
Start Your Journey at Pillars Recovery
We created our California rehab as a refuge in a world stricken by addiction. Our mission is to help our clients declare their independence from drugs and alcohol. Our team members have all found the freedom that accompanies long-lasting recovery, and we want to show you how you can accomplish the same goals in your life.
Because loneliness is a key characteristic of addiction, you need a place where you can find new connections and take the first steps on the path to improved health and happiness. To learn more about our licensed, accredited Southern California facility, contact us today.