The feeling of loneliness can be experienced on a spectrum, from those who may have little support in their lives, to those who know they have a huge support network of friends and family that they know love them and would drop anything for them. We can feel lonely walking into a room full of those we love and also feel lonely walking into a room full of strangers. From those who feel brave enough to seek support and enter my therapy room, I know from their life experience and from my own history how loneliness and isolation are feelings that interconnect.
Research Gathered from the Campaign to End Human Loneliness, Connections in Older Age lets us know that loneliness is not that great for our physical and mental health:
- Loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
- Loneliness is worse for you than obesity. (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
- Lonely people are more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease and depression. (Valtorta et al, 2016) (James et al, 2011) (Cacioppo et al, 2006)
- Loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 29% (Holt-Lunstad, 2015)
Loneliness can be the undercurrent that leads to many behaviours and ways of coping. That may come from the need of wanting connection, intimacy and validation. Some people use the immediacy of alcohol, drugs, food, over-exercising, sex and many more lifestyle choices as a quick fix solution. Often all these numbing agents raise our endorphin levels giving us an endorphin high, and a way of numbing out underlying feelings of isolation, loneliness and our want or need to disconnect from how we may be feeling in our body.
For some of us when we come down from this endorphin high, for some of us, we can feel more vulnerable, empty and alone. As humans we all need to connect to others. We also need to feel comfortable in our skin and be able to cope with being alone with ourselves, we also need to know how we connect and find intimacy internally.
Definition of Loneliness:
- sadness because one has no friends or company.
“feelings of depression and loneliness“
- (of a place) the quality of being unfrequented and remote; isolation.
“the loneliness of the farm“
The government is finally investing money into this not new phenomenon in our culture. With social media we are part of the “here I am” generation, a medium that may not help our underlying feeling of loneliness. As what if we are not “here”, not out doing nice things every day or maybe we do not have the surplus income to be able to afford to do those things. Is our “here I am” generation really that happy, or are they filling the void of loneliness, to numb that feeling with social media.
Loneliness can be a universal experience and no matter the privileges that we live with or the background we come from, the feeling of being lonely can affect any of us at any time in our lives. The first step to change this feeling is to talk someone who loves and understands you. The next step maybe that it is time to seek therapeutic intervention. Joel Korn Psychotherapy can be your first step to seek support and I offer groups and one to one therapy, where we can work together either individually or in a group so you can understand this emotion better.
Here is a great website so you can keep up to date with new understandings and resources now being established to support those feeling Lonely: https://letstalkloneliness.co.uk
Sometimes the intimacy of one to one or group therapy can be enough to understand and be able to cope with feeling lonely. Sometimes this may need wider support from another organisation. Whatever happens know that you don’t need to sit at home alone with your loneliness. Please contact Chai-Yoel Korn at Joel Korn Psychotherapy should you want to take that initial step: firstname.lastname@example.org