One in four Australians has reported feeling lonely all or part of their time. This feeling of loneliness and isolation has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, with one in two Australians indicating they feel lonelier since the pandemic. In today’s blog, we look at the reasons why you may feel lonely and what you can do about it.
Loneliness is not the same as being alone. You can be alone without feeling lonely. On the other hand, you can be surrounded by hundreds of people and still feel lonely. If you feel lonely it is probably because you don’t have the close personal relationships that make you feel secure, comforted, and content. You may have recently lost a loved one or moved to a new area and don’t know anyone. Maybe you lack the confidence or the know-how to meet new people and form new friendships. Loneliness could be linked to depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress. It’s easy to become withdrawn and isolated if you have these issues as you naturally feel uncomfortable around people. This can make depression and anxiety worse as your contact with the world becomes smaller.
How you think about yourself and your place in the world can also result in loneliness. Without knowing it, you may be thinking yourself into isolation. How we think about affects how we feel about ourselves. When we are lonely, we often make it worse by thinking negatively: “there’s something wrong with me”, “I’ll always be alone”, or “no one else feels like this”.
Sometimes people feel so lonely that it seems like the only way they’ll feel better is by hurting or even killing themselves. If this is the case for you or someone you know, please seek urgent help from emergency services (dial 000) or call Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling for support.
Open Arms provides free and confidential counseling support for veterans and their families 24/7. Call 1800 011 046.
So what can you do about it?
The first step to overcoming loneliness is to think about why you’re feeling lonely. Different problems require different solutions.
Do you have enough social contact in your life?
Do you have people you can talk to, go out with, ask for help from? If not, increasing your social support by building relationships with others is a great first step.
Do you find negative thoughts get in the way?
Are you always predicting the worst or putting yourself down?
Negative thinking is at the heart of loneliness: it is not being alone, it is what we think about being alone. The more we can think positively about ourselves, our lives, other people, and our futures, the more productive we will be. Being pessimistic and expecting the worst runs the risk of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Expect the worst and the worst will happen. Helpful thinking can change the way you feel.
Do you have enjoyable activities in your life?
You’re probably already part of several social networks, you just don’t realise it. If you have hobbies, play a sport, or do volunteer work, they’re part of your network.
Being with other people while you’re doing an activity together is a great way to build relationships without putting too much pressure on yourself.
And remember – You’ll never walk alone. No matter when you served in the military, all veterans are family.
Sourced: Open Arms https://www.openarms.gov.au/