A recent study found that young people (age 16-24) feel loneliness more intensely and more often than any other age group. This might be surprising to many, as we often think of loneliness happening to us in old age. However, it has been suggested that the reason why this age group feels loneliness so intensely is because they are still finding out who they are.
More generally loneliness can come about for a number of reasons – the death of somebody significant; moving to a new location and being separated from friends and family; divorce; or it can be a symptom of an underlying issue such as depression or low self-esteem.
Loneliness is a feeling of being alone in the world, irrespective of who’s around you. You may feel sad, misunderstood, out of the loop, and disconnected from the world. It is a state of mind which often leads people to crave company. The problem is that the mindset of loneliness often makes it harder to engage with others.
Loneliness has been linked to a number of negative mental effects including depression, increased stress levels, poor decision making, alcohol and drug use, and antisocial behaviour as well as a range of physical health issues.
However there are some things you can do to prevent loneliness.
The feeling of loneliness can be seen as an important indicator that we need to change something. Look at your life and think about what doesn’t work. Are you spending too much time indoors, do you belong to any groups, do you have a regular routine, do you make time for friends and family, do you spend too much time working, etc.
The next step is to make some changes. Often getting involved in a group with a common goal can be a great way to bond with others without being too daunting. It’s important to create some meaningful relationships in your life because ultimately, sharing meaningful experiences with others helps us feel more connected to the world, less lonely, happier and more positive about life.