Loneliness, unfortunately is something that most people will experience at some point within their life. Whether it be because of physical isolation or emotional and mental isolation. Loneliness can come in different forms and affect people in different ways.
Social isolation is another term for physical loneliness. Loneliness caused by physical isolation or distance it tends to put a large strain on your mental well being. It’s when someone doesn’t have much contact with other people which is causing them to feel lonely. This is not true for everyone though. There are some people who are isolated and are not lonely. Isolation doesn’t always mean loneliness and loneliness doesn’t always come with physical isolation.
Extroverts and Introverts
When it comes to how much social interaction a person requires it varies pending on their person. There are extroverts and introverts. Both require some form of interaction and time to themselves. Extroverts usually crave people and socialization more often than not and feel energized when they are around others. They do still appreciate time alone.
Introverts on the other hand, enjoy being with people but they regain their energy by being alone and doing their own thing. Just because someone is an introvert doesn’t mean they can’t be the life of the party. It purely means they are going to require more time alone to rest up and recharge before they can go to another social gathering.
This begs the question, how is loneliness measured? Dr. Daniel Russell from UCLA created the Loneliness Scale. This is a scale which takes the answers from 20 different question to determine how lonely a person is. Physicians have taken this scale and updated to today’s standards and use it a means to tell whether someone is dealing with chronic loneliness or another form of mental wellness issues.
Items on the scale include feelings of exclusion, being totally alone, struggling to reach out to loved ones, not being okay with any amount of solitude, etc. Mental health professionals can sometimes distinguish between social l loneliness and emotional loneliness. The loss of a partner, friend or loved one could lead to emotional loneliness whereas being isolated and socially distanced from others could lead to social loneliness.
Why does social loneliness exist?
If people are always surrounded by others how could they possibly feel lonely? Both of these questions are valid and can be hard for some people to try and understand. For those who are rarely lonely and thrive with being around people even if they don’t know them, may not be able to fully understand how someone who doesn’t thrive from being around people could feel lonely, especially in a crowd where they don’t know anyone.
A few reasons why loneliness exists is lack of social connections, living alone, poor health conditions, lack of technology or means to be able to connect with others or mental health illnesses which cause someone to struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Lack of connections
- moving and not knowing anyone
- living in a place where you physically isolated from the greater population.
- Living alone
- Declining health conditions
When you or someone else is feeling lonely, there’s no need to take a test or get a second opinion, chances are you are lonely. Even though loneliness is not a natural part of getting older, a lot of seniors and those with chronic illnesses experience it. It’s important to maintain god social connections and have a support system you can access when those feelings of loneliness appear.
Some signs of loneliness could include:
- Sudden neglect of hygiene or personal care
- Lack of motivation or energy
- Increase in negative thinking
- Not as interested in things they used to enjoy doing
- Change in connections with others, either reaching out more or a lot less
- An increase in activates, i.e. shopping or trying to get involved in everything for everyone
- An increase in hot baths or showers as they can act as a substitute for the warmth of human contact
If you or someone else you know is experiencing loneliness, please reach out to a close friend or medical professional.