According to researchers at the University of North Carolina, loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke. Another study cites that chronic loneliness can lead to a shorter life by as much as 14%. Loneliness, in the long-term, can have a greater impact on you than obesity, dealing with poverty and your overall well-being.
If you are suffering from loneliness, there are ways in which you can decrease the loneliness you feel. One of the top reasons you may experience loneliness is too much self-focus on what you lack versus what is abundant in your life. Yes, sometimes you need to step outside of your own world to see things from a greater perspective and realize that you have much to be grateful for.Some ways you can do this include:
- Get involved in your community. Doing some volunteer work at a homeless shelter, food depository, women’s shelter, local school, hospital or library can do wonders for helping you connect with others. When you are helping someone else, this is often the biggest way to connect back to a happier state of mind.
- Go exercise. Exercise can be a wonderful way to boost your mental state. If a tight budget is holding you back from joining a local health club, utilize the park districts in your area to sign up for activities. Often, there are many free or inexpensive programs. Some of these programs include workouts in a gym, swimming classes or other indoor and outdoor hobbies and activities.
- Journal how you feel. Putting things down in black and white on paper help them to feel less daunting. Write about what makes you lonely and then write down what you are going to do to feel happier and less lonely. Then most importantly, put it into action.
- Find time to connect with family, friends and loved ones. It can be difficult to get out and even want to mingle with others if you are feeling sad or lonely. Perhaps you have lost a spouse after many years of marriage, or a good friend and the last thing you want to do is socialize with others. But, social connection is one of the best ways to cope with loss and ease your grieving. Try looking at each social activity as a chance to do something to take you outside of your normal day-to-day routine, get to know new people and build new friendships with those who can be supportive and encouraging.
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