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Health News
Your mind matters
Understanding and relieving loneliness
Article published on Wednesday, June 11, 2014
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Do you feel like “everybody’s got somebody,” except you and are you “tired of seeing everybody else so happy” when you’re “lonely and have no one?”

Although you may feel like you are the only lonely person, the truth is that even though Pinellas is the most populated county in Florida, the days and nights of solitude close in on many people just like you. It’s not the presence of other people that can cure loneliness; it’s the presence of mind in the heart of the lonely person.

Do you understand why you are lonely? Do you know what can be done to alleviate your suffering? How can you come out of the silence and into a life fulfilled?

There may be several reasons why you feel lonely and they are different for each person, but some of the root causes of loneliness are low self-esteem, poor self-confidence, finding it difficult to talk to others (poor social skills), stages of life (new in town, becoming a single parent, recently widowed, relationship ended) or it could be just not knowing where to go or what to do to find friends or a potential dating partner. Whatever your situation, the pain of loneliness can be overwhelming. I’d like to help lift your heart by sharing some ways to overcome these feelings so you can live in a state of happiness.

If you didn’t know how to put a piece of furniture together, cook a meal or drive to an unfamiliar location, one of the first things you could do is read the instructions, follow the recipe, and check the map or use the GPS. Let’s compare curing loneliness to any one of these tasks. The first step is to learn about your causes of loneliness. You could consult a counselor, a pastor or even Google. There are several websites dedicated to providing answers like www.webofloneliness.com, for example, where loneliness is discussed in detail.

If your root cause is related to self-esteem, confidence or social skills, you could check out www.amazon.com/ to find a book in print or download onto your reading device. You could go to www.audible.com/ to download a book to listen to on any one of these subjects by typing in your desired subject in the search field. By doing this, you would be taking a step toward understanding what is holding you back and developing skills that can lead you to alleviating your loneliness.

It is not unusual for some people who experience loneliness to develop depression or anxiety. If this is the case with you, which came first? Are you lonely because you suffer from depression and can’t seem to “snap out it” or are you depressed because you feel lonely? Do you suffer from anxiety that prohibits you from interacting socially or does the fear of being isolated cause you to feel anxious? It’s a vicious circle, but I have noticed that becoming involved in activities can distract the mind, energize the body and make the heart smile. Depression and anxiety often reduces and releases the stranglehold on the individual.

What if you just want to meet friends and you have no interest in a romantic relationship? Conversely, what if you desire a close connection? My suggestion would be to move in the direction of finding friends first and not focus on the romantic aspect. The greatest relationships form a basis in friendship first. If you have worked through your self-esteem or confidence concerns and are ready to take the next step, consider a few of these sources:

1. www.meetup.com – You can page through this website to find a group that you are interested in joining. There are many activities you can choose from. Go for the fun of it, and you may end up forming friendships with like-minded people.

2. Sports: Did you used to like to play sports when you were younger? If you type your desired sport into Google and type your city, you can find various leagues to join. Have fun! Feel young again. If you aren’t as young as you used to be, you can consider coaching a youth group as an alternative.

3. Volunteer: Many charities need volunteers. It’s a great way to do something that speaks to your heart and you can find friends in these circles as well. Do you love animals? The SPCA, Humane Society or Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary needs you. Do you like seniors? Many senior centers need someone just to push a wheelchair outside on a nice day. Do you have a heart for the homeless (Metropolitan Ministries, Pinellas Hope), veterans (Bay Pines VA Hospital), the dying (Hospice), children (Big Brothers Big Sisters) just to name a few? They all need you. Your service to others can be very rewarding.

4. Religious groups: Many religious groups have calendars full of activities to join for fellowship and fun. Getting involved in a small group can lift your spirit and help you find a life-purpose.

The most important suggestion I can offer you is that if you suffer in silence with loneliness, reach out. Take one step at a time. Understand what is causing you to suffer and then develop a few new skills that can help you to discover a whole new life that leaves loneliness behind you.

A staff member at the Bay Pines VA Hospital from 2006-2013, Dina Meitner, LCSW, is currently in private practice at 2081 Indian Rocks Road.
Article published on Wednesday, June 11, 2014
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