Loneliness is a common emotion to experience when living alone or when we feel separated or unsupported by others. Many times, this feeling is transient, a fleeting period that lasts only a short time.
However, sometimes loneliness can become persistent. For some, this persistence can last through the winter holiday season, normally one of the more joyful times of the year. Persistent loneliness can lead to increased health risks, which is why it’s imperative to understand the effects of loneliness on mental health.
The Impact of Loneliness
According to a study done by Brigham Young University, loneliness might be the new health crisis, increasing the risk of mortality. Those who are older may be at increased risk due to loneliness.
Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, the lead researcher of the study, differentiated loneliness into two types: objective loneliness, where one is physically isolated from others, and subjective loneliness, when one experiences the feeling of isolation even when in the physical presence of others. The researchers found that those who are subjectively lonely had an increased mortality rate of 26%, while objectively lonely people had an increased rate of up to 32%!
The holidays can be an especially vulnerable time for those who are lonely, which is why it’s important to take action.
What You Can Do
If you are physically alone or are experiencing the feelings of loneliness, there are several steps that you can take to combat your loneliness:
Realize that you are not alone: Experiencing feelings of loneliness does not indicate that there is anything wrong with you. Everyone goes through lonely periods in their life.
Keep Yourself Busy: If you are bored or have ample time on your hands, try volunteering with an organization or an event that you are interested in.
Refrain from Online Dependence: While online communities can be a great social outlet, make sure you are having in-person interactions as well.
San Antonio Behavioral Healthcare Hospital is a treatment facility that specializes in comprehensive, individualized behavioral health programs and mental health services. If you are in need of therapy or would like help dealing with persistent loneliness, contact us today.