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Loneliness is more common than you think.

Through out my career as a counsellor one issue that has consistently been presented by clients has been loneliness. It is a common issue that is felt by many people at different times in their lives and is perfectly normal. What distinguishes people is how they deal with loneliness and their understanding of what is happening around them that is contributing to this feeling.

It is difficult to define loneliness as everyone experiences it in a different way and for different reasons. For some it is a fleeting feeling that visits them when they are feeling disconnected from other people in their lives, whereas for others it has been described as a shadow that is always with them on their journey through life.

It is usual for the feeling to come to the fore at times when you are making significant changes in your life (intentional or not) and the people inter-actions in your life are changing. Moving to a new town, starting a new job and the end of a relationship are all key instances where one might feel loneliness creep in. These are all times where you may feel disconnected from those people that you have felt a ‘special bond’ with that may have developed over a long period.

Loneliness is not necessarily a negative feeling and can be viewed as a positive experience whereby time and space is given to ones-self to be able to ‘just be’ and be alone with the thoughts in one’s head. However, in many cases loneliness, particularly prolonged bouts of the feeling, can lead to not so positive experiences, including mental illnesses such as depression.

Is it possible to overcome? – Absolutely. I don’t believe it can be conquered to the extent that you will never have the feeling again, but by putting plans in place and recognising the triggers, you can shorten the length of time that you experience the feeling or reduce the frequency that it occurs.

5 step fix:- (there is no quick fix but this may help)

1)   Recognise and identify what is happening in your current life that may be intensifying the feeling. Is there a positive view of this circumstance?, moving to a new city presents new and exciting opportunities, for example.

2)   Contact – human contact is important so seek out this contact (in a healthy way). A smile and a hello to the local dairy owner on a daily basis can make a difference and is a good first step. Think about old contacts or people you haven’t connected with for a long time and get in touch. A quick email or text message can be a great way of re-establishing a relationship.

3)   Talk about what’s happening for you with someone who will listen and understand

4)   Action – Take some action, do something. Go for a walk, ride a bike, find out about a club you’ve been interested in joining, go to a sporting event. It is important to ‘get out there’ and let the world know you are around.

5)   Know you are not alone – (strange I know) everyone goes through this at some time in their lives and come through it. In today’s society we are constantly reminded of how great other peoples lives are. Everywhere we look everyone seems to have lots of friends/family and is having a good time. Everyone puts on a face to the rest of the world that they are OK and that their life is great. People we talk to at work or on the bus might moan about a few things (usually the weather if you are English like me !), but generally they give the impression that all is well in their world, when in fact it’s probably not.

The responsibility for coping with this feeling sits firmly with yourself and it is up to you to take the necessary steps to help you to cope with this. What-ever happens don’t feel that you have to cope on your own, there are people out there that want to help, sometimes you’ve just got to ask.