4 Steps to Walk Away From Loneliness
Loneliness can impact our mental and physical health—so how can we loosen its grip?
June 29, 2021
There are plenty of times where we may be alone—working remotely, commuting solo, or even living by ourselves. Just because we’re by ourselves doesn’t mean we feel lonely. Sometimes we thrive in this “alone time,” allowing us to do activities we enjoy on our own.
But many of us don’t like to admit we all feel lonely from time to time.
According to a 2018 survey by Cigna, nearly half of Americans reported sometimes or always feeling alone, and one in five people reported never feeling close to people.
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines loneliness as “…discomfort or uneasiness from being or perceiving oneself to be alone….” The APA cites various reasons for loneliness, such as a lack of companionship or a lack of desired closeness in relationships.
Certain situations, such as moving to a new city, or a major life change, such as divorce, can contribute to feelings of loneliness. Any events that may negatively impact your social circles may make you feel lonely.
Mental health conditions can also play a factor. Someone with social anxiety may struggle to interact with others, even though they may crave human connection.
“Humans need social connections,” explained Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, psychologist and senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) at McLean Hospital. “When we don’t have them, it’s harder for us to handle things on our own. There are some issues and problems in this world that are best dealt with as a community.”
We can even feel alone when we’re surrounded by other people. For example, you may feel alone if traveling to a country where the language is unfamiliar to you. Often, teens who feel misunderstood by their parents and siblings may feel lonely at home.
“Some of us are introverts,” Coyne said, “but at the same time, we have a herd mentality. We need connections to survive.”