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Loneliness Counseling and Treatment

Loneliness Counseling and Treatment

Before we learn how to deal with loneliness, it is important to understand what loneliness is. Is it due to the stressful environment at the workplace or is there something else going in life. Also, it is important to know if loneliness and solitude are synonyms or are they actually two different terms? Loneliness is more than what we know or understand.

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Why am I so Lonely?

Loneliness is commonly defined as a state of being alone or in solitude. It is a common emotion but unique and complex in its own way. It has no single cause and as it has no common cause, the ways to deal and treat loneliness vary as well.

We are social creatures. We rely on a supportive, safe, and compassionate environment to thrive. But whenever there is a situation of social isolation, one starts feeling uncomfortable and out of control. But as human beings, we love to be in control of everything. In order to gain control, one seeks opportunities to reconnect to feel comfortable and strong.

The situation of social isolation often arises when one doesn't meet their core emotional needs in their life. When it happens, one develops beliefs that are isolated and unwanted by others. The feeling of loneliness often makes one believe they do not have any choice in the matter. For many, it results in mental health conditions such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, etc. The feeling of loneliness can result in feeling helpless or hopeless.

Major Causes of Loneliness

Loneliness is a universal emotion that could be a unique emotion for everyone. But it also seems to be complex to understand. A teen may be feeling lonely because their best friend didn’t check in with them in a week, while an aged person may be feeling lonely because their partner passed away.

Research shows it depends upon the situational variables. For one person, these variables could vary compared to another person. Demographic factors also play a key role in making loneliness a unique emotion for everyone.

The feeling of loneliness can be experienced even when one is surrounded by a huge crowd yet feels lonely.

Is Solitude Different?

Though at times, both are used interchangeably, they are actually different. Both in layman terms means being alone but yet they are different. Loneliness is marked by feelings of isolation though want to experience social connections. While solitude is voluntary. One chooses to be alone even though they have ample opportunities to socialize. Loneliness is an unpleasant feeling while people like introverts enjoy solitude. They connect with others, enjoy companionship but also like to spend time being in solitude. People who enjoy solitude act as a battery recharge for them.

Solitude means being with oneself and enabling one to have better self-awareness. Solitude can be helpful to everyone. A personality like introverts finds solitude helpful to process the stress and know themselves better. It helps to boost their productivity, reflect on life situations and events with clarity, process and absorb information better and plan ways to deal with stressful situations.

Healing from Feelings of Loneliness

When experiencing loneliness, here are some steps you could take to heal from it.

  1. Embracing Loneliness through Acceptance Acceptance is the first step in the healing process. Acknowledging the fact that you are not alone who face loneliness but there are many who face it in their daily life. But it is subjective and there can be different reasons for one to experience it. But if you are looking for solutions to deal with it in your life, you need to acknowledge that you are not alone with this feeling. It is common and you can overcome it.

  2. Practice Self Care When you are experiencing loneliness, try to embrace self-care. When one feels lonely, they distance themselves from taking care of themselves. Self-care is important. When you are feeling lonely, practice the activities like taking a walk, getting enough sleep. eating healthy, and etc. It will make you feel better.

  3. Take Steps to Strengthen your Existing Relationships You may feel lonely, but you may have people like family, some friends, acquaintances, colleagues, etc. You could make efforts to strengthen your relationships with them, get to know them better so that they are able to understand you as well. It would not only help you strengthen your connections with them but also take care of yourself, your emotions and become better at people communication.

  4. Seek Support Online As loneliness is a common experience and with the advent of technology and increased usage of social media, people are more available online vs. offline. You could join support groups online to connect with the people experiencing loneliness as much as you do. Though, be careful of whom you meet online and what you share with them and not. Take all internet safety precautions while seeking online emotional support. You can find genuine support and help and develop healthy connections with others. You can also reach out to an online therapist for online counseling or therapy so they can provide you much needed mental health support as well.

  5. Consult a Therapist As the cause of loneliness can vary, its treatment would vary as well. And, sometimes going out there and building new connections aren’t enough to deal with the challenge. It can be the possibility you are feeling lonely even when you are with people. It might be due to depression, social anxiety, grief, substance abuse, or something entirely different. If that is the case with you, it is probably a good idea to consult a therapist and get the expert help and support you need in order to heal from the feelings of loneliness.

There are also Physical Symptoms

We all need some alone time for self-reflection or recharge, But a prolonged period of isolation can have adverse effects on your physical health and mental health as well. We may not realize but our mental health and physical health are somewhat intertwined. If you feel lonely, you may experience some physical symptoms of it too.

Some of the common physical symptoms one can experience are a weaker immune system, a confused and clueless mind, a weaker digestive system and constantly experiencing muscle tensions and body pain. It can also cause headaches and sleep troubles.

Dealing with Loneliness Through Psychotherapy

If you are experiencing loneliness, reaching out to a therapist can be helpful. It can allow you to seek all the support and guidance you need to deal with the feeling of being lonely. Also, it allows you to connect with someone and feel connected, comfortable, and supported by them. It would make you feel less lonely and focus on directing your energy to better understand your emotions and learn to handle them effectively.

As loneliness can be caused by different situational variables. An online therapist would help you provide the right framework or treatment plan to deal with it. They would be able to diagnose the unique factors that cause you to feel alone. And constantly work with you to plan correct steps and strategies to cope up with it. Some forms of therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy or group therapy help you cope up with the specific situations that might be causing you the feeling of loneliness.

7 Cups offers you access to emotional support through its various programs. You can join us today by signing up easily and start exploring all the options it offers to provide mental health support. The various services you may access are connecting with listeners to seek support in 1-1 live chat, joining group live sessions in the user chat rooms, exploring various forums to post your questions, issues, or concerns. All the above services are available at zero cost to everyone regardless of the location they are in. You can also check out its online therapy services where you will be able to connect to experienced and compassionate mental health professionals like counselors, therapists, and psychologists.

You can access 7 Cups through its free mobile app at any location, anytime, and start sending messages to seek support. The compassionate listeners and counselors will be glad to listen and support you with your loneliness, other mental health conditions, or other specific needs or struggles you may be going through.

Finally, please know that you are not alone. We are all here with you to listen and support.

Featured Contributors

Lisa Meighan, MBPsS

Lisa is a licensed mental health counselor with an eclectic style of therapy to fit every client

Haley Neidich, MSW, LCSW

Haley Neidich is a licensed psychotherapist and the Senior Director of Clinical Development for ThriveTalk.com.

Trishna Monplaisir, LMSW

Trishna is a licensed social worker with over ten years of experence in a variety of settings including long term and brief interventions.

Kathy Wenzel

Kathy is the editor of a leading regional publication in Michigan with personal experience with and a passion for mental health issues.