We’ve in an age where we’ve never been more connected, yet more and more of us are reporting feelings of loneliness and isolation. The world’s largest survey on loneliness revealed 16 to 24-year-old’s are the most likely to feel lonely, with a whopping 40% saying they feel lonely often or very often.
With one in five inner-city children often feeling lonely, as well as those from BAME backgrounds at a greater risk of loneliness, it would seem that more of us are encountering feelings of loneliness at all ages.
Whether you are affected by emotional loneliness (where you miss the company of a particular person, such as a friend or loved one) or social loneliness (lacking friends or close colleagues), it’s important to remember that it’s natural to crave companionship. While some of us may choose to be alone (which can be a positive thing), when it isn’t a conscious decision, we can begin to feel disconnected from others.
Chronic loneliness can lead to ill mental health as well as problems sleeping, increased stress, and even depression. Often a vicious cycle, breaking away from feelings of loneliness can be tough. Working with a health, personal development or relationships coach could help you to feel more confident, start creating new relationships, and overcome barriers that may be holding you back.
1. Talking can provide an external sounding board for how you are feeling
Whether you choose to open up to a coach or a counsellor, talking about your feelings with an impartial, external party can help you to work through deeper issues and uncover other things that may be affecting how you are feeling.
Talking about your thoughts and feelings can be a difficult process, but by opening up, it becomes easier as time goes on. While a coach won’t give you all of the answers you may be looking for, they can help you work towards figuring out just what it is you need, and which areas you may most benefit from working on to help you feel happier, more connected, and more fulfilled.
2. A coach can help you identify what is missing
When we are in a negative headspace, it can be hard to figure out exactly what it is we need. If you are feeling lonely, you may assume that finding a romantic partner is the answer to all of your problems, whereas there may be other roots towards feeling more connected, such as experimenting with new hobbies, reaching out to colleagues, or rekindling old friendships. Opening up with a coach can help you to better identify what may be missing and work towards feeling happier.
3. Remember: being alone and feeling lonely aren’t the same thing
Being physically alone, and feeling emotionally lonely are two different things. Whilst someone may experience both at the same time, it’s important to take a step back and consider: are you feeling lonely, or are you enjoying time by yourself?
Life coach Jo Painter explains, “Loneliness has a scale of spectrum, with each end having extremes from constant loneliness to occasional loneliness. Being alone means literally you are by yourself. Being lonely means you crave social contact and connection with others. You can be in a group of people or with the one you love, and still feel lonely.”
Building and nourishing deeper connections with acquaintances or friends who you don’t feel as close to can be a good way to get started. Taking things slowly can help you to strengthen these connections over time.