Loneliness and mental health

Everyone feels lonely sometimes, for a whole host of different reasons. We might be shy and afraid to make friends. We may have just suffered a loss. We may live alone, be out of work, or not close with our families emotionally or by distance. We may have mobility issues and not be able to get out and about easily. Or we may have underlying mental health issues and are afraid of stigma.

Whatever the reasons for our loneliness, it is not good for us. It increases our risk of physical illness such as headaches, aches and pains, worsening of pre-existing conditions and new illness. It can cause sleeplessness, over or under eating, alcohol and drug abuse and low energy. Loneliness can cause depression, anxiety and panic attacks.

So what can we do? Try reaching out. It can be to a friend, spouse, family member, co-worker or professional. Let someone know what you are feeling. There are clubs we can join, both online and in person, groups we can belong to, and community organizations to go to. Are there any classes available near you? Is there a book club you can join? A recipe exchange? If we are isolated by way of geography as well, there are many online groups and social networking sites to join. Facebook, when used responsibly, can be a fun way to re-connect with old friends and connect with new ones. We can volunteer - it does a heart good and helps someone else in need. If there aren't groups close by to join, start your own! Use the Internet, newspaper and old fashioned bulletin boards to attract members.

Exercise, exercise, exercise!  A good workout, dancing, yoga, a walk... they all help you feel better. That goes for eating right and sleeping enough too. They are steps on the road to wellness.

Get a pet. Studies show pets reduce stress. They provide companionship and can ward off loneliness. Pets are used in all kinds of therapy now and may be just what the doctored ordered.

And remember, no matter how lonely you feel, there is someone out there who is feeling the same thing. And we all need someone.

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About the Author

Keri-Lynn is a married mother of four children and two "step-men" and has been in the print industry for 20 years. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 11 years ago and has a keen interest in sharing her wellness strategies with others.

Contact Keri-Lynn by email:  [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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