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A Simple Solution To The Loneliness Epidemic!?


I’ve Been Hearing a Lot About Loneliness

When I was doing my research for my previous post about holiday related loneliness. I’ve stumbled upon some interesting facts about how the way people interact with each other has changed over the years. 

It was said that 2019 was a record year for people who preferred to find relationships online vs. face-to-face. 

About 40% of couples meet each other online now vs. through family and friends. Most teens prefer to chat online than in person. We no longer have to leave the comforts of home to meet new people.

Is the rise of the internet going hand-in-hand with the rise in the proportion of people who feel lonely?

What is Loneliness? And it’s Consequences?

Loneliness is an emotional state. It’s characterized by symptoms such as anxiety, stress, depression and sleep disturbances. It’s caused a lack of human connection from not having deep and meaningful relationships. 

The terms lonely and alone are used interchangeably, however they don’t necessarily mean the same thing.

There are many single people that live solitary lives, but don’t feel lonely. There are many people in committed relationships that are always around other people that feel lonely. 

Two Types of Loneliness

There Are Two Types Of Loneliness:

  • Acute Loneliness: Occurs when a life change such as a job loss, loss of a relationship/death of a loved one.
  • Chronic Loneliness: Occurs when the uncomfortable emotional state of being lonely goes on for a long time.

Health Effects of Loneliness

We all will experience loneliness at least once in our lives, but has many negative effects on physical and mental health. 

These Include:

  • Stress, Depression and Anxiety: Feeling lonely can lead to an increase of stress and results in depression and anxiety.
  • Lack of Self-Care: The negative effects that loneliness has on your mental health can lead to a lack of motivation to eat right and exercise.
  • Increased Cortisol: Cortisol increases the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increase the substances that repair tissues. However, prolonged stress caused by loneliness can lead to too much cortisol and this can wreak havoc on your body.
  • Lower Immune System: Loneliness can affect your body’s immune system.
  • Cardiovascular Problems: Loneliness can make you more susceptible to high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
  • Obesity: Loneliness along with lack of exercise, overeating and an increase of cortisol leads to obesity.

According to webMD loneliness has the potential to be just as deadly as obesity and smoking.


The Loneliness Epidemic and Its Causes

All of us will experience loneliness sometime or another. We will all end up in situations that can lead to the depletion of our social networks.

Feelings of loneliness are usually temporary. However, there are a lot of people that are lonely all the time. It’s estimated that ½ of all Americans report either having no meaningful friendships or they chronically feel lonely.

Social isolation that leads to loneliness is not just a problem for the elderly or the homebound. It’s also a problem for younger people. The largest group of chronically lonely people are adults age 25 to 44. However the loneliest group of all are young adults aged 18 to 25. 

Do You Notice A Pattern? 

There have been many social and technological changes over the years that have changed how we make friends. In the past face-to-face interaction was more common than it is now. Meaningful friendships were formed through our workplaces, family and friends and community organizations. What changed? 

Since the 1980s there have been changes in the economy. This led to more people taking temporary jobs or taking other full jobs after a short period of time. Another thing that changed was less participation in community organizations; more people had to work longer hours and didn’t have as much time to socialize with others.

The changes in the economy required more people to move to unfamiliar cities. They took more temporary work assignments and had to move again when the assignment was over. These factors can make it hard to form meaningful friendships.

The Rise Of The Internet

The biggest change of all was the rise of the internet, especially the rise of social media.

Social media has led to many positive changes, but it led to alot of negative ones. It has led to a decline in face-to-face interactions with the people we associate with.

However, there has been a decrease in the quality of our face-to-face interactions as our communication skills suffer.

Also, many people have become more antisocial. They’re more complacent with the idea of sitting behind a computer screen.

I’ve mentioned many times in this blog about the overuse of technology on our mental health. Issues such as anxiety, sleep issues, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and loneliness.

We’re relying on online relationships more than real life ones. It’s making it harder to form meaningful connections.

What is The Solution To Loneliness?

This is a tough question, because everybody is different. What worked for me may work for other people, but it may not work for others.

What does work is for you to find your tribe or community. As a species we humans are naturally hardwired to make other connections with other people.

Our ancestors lived in communities to increase their chances for survival. They had a shared interest in hunting and gathering food. Later on this led to agriculture and other shared interests included religion, customs, traditions and culture appeared. 

The Rise Of Post-Modernity

Since the beginning of modernity there has been less emphasis on community. Instead there was more emphasis on unifying the world under a single point of view.

Since the end of world war 2 we have been entering a period of something called post-modernism. The world is no longer standardized under a single point of view. We are going back to forming communities of like minded people that share the same point of view as us.

The formation of communities also works. Individuals or groups of people gather for a common interest in a particular hobby or profession. They can also share the same relationship status.

The place to start is ironically through using social media. A positive part of social media is being able to network with like minded through sites like facebook or meetup.com. 

This solution to the loneliness epidemic has shown positive results. Many previously lonely people have reported fewer hospital visits and better physical and mental health.

Conclusion

The loneliness epidemic is one of the biggest public health challenges. It’s not only in the United States, but worldwide as well.

Reducing social media usage and reemphasizing face-to-face interactions are a simple solution to an otherwise complicated problem.

This post was written in 2019. As of 2020 face-to-face interactions have been harder due to COVID-19. Try connecting through zoom or FaceTime if you can’t connect face-to-face.

How Often do you Engage in Face-to Face
Interactions with Others?

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If you’re interested in reading more about social media’s role in society please click on the button below:

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/loneliness-epidemic-consequences

https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilhowe/2019/05/03/millennials-and-the-loneliness-epidemic/?sh=183ba867676a

https://www.hrsa.gov/enews/past-issues/2019/january-17/loneliness-epidemic

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/05/01/606588504/americans-are-a-lonely-lot-and-young-people-bear-the-heaviest-burden

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Loneliness Can Lead To Unhealthy Relationships

What is Loneliness?

Loneliness is a sad and unhappy emotional state due feeling socially isolated. 

Most people think loneliness is the same as being alone and the two terms are used interchangeably. Being lonely is an emotional state vs. being alone is a state of solitude not an emotional state.

Tis the Season for Online Dating?

The holiday season is also a busy period for online dating sites such as match.com and eharmony.

Have you ever made it a New Year’s resolution to find love or are you looking for love because of feelings of holiday related loneliness? I’ll be discussing how loneliness can lead to unhealthy relationship decisions and I’ll also be discussing how to cope with feelings of loneliness.

If you are experiencing loneliness, along with anxiety and depression I recommend that you download my anxiety expert guide.

Please Click on the button below:

What is Online Dating?

Online dating enables people to meet each other through an internet based connection, with the goal of developing personal, romantic or sexual relationships.

It’s estimated that 40% of adults now meet each other online.

Online dating has many advantages.

Ease of Access: The number of potential partners increases with online dating. Especially if you’re a busy person or a single parent that has trouble finding them in your daily life. 

The number of choices available can be overwhelming and confusing. Online dating has the paradox of choice that can feel like car shopping when you feel stuck endlessly shopping, rather than starting a satisfying relationship.

Matching: Many online dating sites offer you a personality test that can determine your match. Such matching can help users become paired up with dating partners who may be compatible. It’s possible to specify who you’d like to be matched up with by selecting specific information such as demographics, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicities, certain ages and lifestyles. 

The results of the personality test are not always accurate and matching is usually a difficult process. The person you’re match up with may present themselves differently in person than they do in their profile. Matching has the potential to overlook potentially good partners. There’s also the issue with geographic barriers; someone you’re matched up with may be located long distance. 

Communication: Online dating offers a number of ways to get to know a potential date before meeting in person. This allows for the safe and convenient interaction without the risk of the time commitment. 

When you’re communicating with someone through a computer there is a lot of information about that person that is lacking. It’s harder to evaluate a potential partner online vs. face-to-face interaction.

Being in a Relationship to Avoid Being Lonely? Red Flags To Be Aware of?

There are some singles that want to enter a relationship or stay in one out of loneliness regardless of unhealthy it is.

Feelings of inadequacy can also be caused by holiday related cliches related to gift giving and kissing under the mistletoe. In the spirit of all of these cliches there’s that assumption that if you’re alone this time of year that your life is lacking.

Loneliness can have a negative effect on your relationship choices and there are many red flags you need to check yourself for.

Red Flags include:

  • Compromising what you will and will not put up with in a relationship.
  • Making excuses for yourself for why you’re staying with the person you’re with.
  • Ignoring the advice or input from friends and family regarding your relationship.
  • You may have a sixth sense that’s telling you that the relationship is unhealthy, but you ignore it out of the fear of being alone.

Being lonely can make you vulnerable to some of the more dangerous aspects of online dating. 

People can lie on their online dating profiles: It’s estimated that a little more than 50% of online daters have lied on their profiles. Common lies include age, height, weight, income, photos and Job Type/Title. 

Many people like to wear masks that project an imagined or ideal version of themselves and this is why you never know who a person truly is like until sometime later. Sometimes they try to hide dysfunctional aspects of their personalities.

Catphishing: Lying on an online profile can be taken a step further with catphishing. This is a kind of deception where a person creates a presence in social networks as a fictional online persona for the purpose of luring someone into a romantic relationship in order to get money, gifts and attention.

It’s important to aware of some of the negative patterns that can occur if you’re looking for a relationship if you’re feeling lonely.

How to Handle Loneliness in a Healthy Way?

Loneliness is an emotion we will all experience from time-to-time. It’s important to cope with it in a healthy way so it doesn’t interfere with our lives in an unhealthy way.

There are many positive ways to cope with loneliness including:

  • Get Intimate and Talk About How You Feel: I’m referring to building up the positive relationships you already have with family and friends. The fear of being vulnerable can make you more prone to loneliness. Talk about how you feel with someone instead of holding it in. For the guys reading this post this pertains to you too. It’s not a sign of weakness to admit that you are in a negative emotional state.
  • Find Community: Finding a community of like minded people helps you stay busy. Remember that loneliness can lead us to unintentionally isolate ourselves out of self pity and gives us more time to focus on negative thoughts. A great place to start in your search for your community of like minded people is through websites such as meetup.com.
  • Practice self-care and Reduce Your Social Media Usage: This is important. Feeling lonely can cause us to turn to unhealthy habits such overeating, not getting enough sleep and drinking too much alcohol. It’s also important to be aware that you’re at risk of attracting toxic people into your life, so try to focus on meeting more positive people. I mention this a lot in this blog. Social media can make a lonely person feel more lonely and reducing your social media usage can help you a lot.
  • Volunteer: Volunteering your time is not only for a good cause, but it also has the additional benefit of keeping your mind occupied. There was one Christmas when I was in college and I volunteered at a food pantry and you can stay just as busy as you would at a paying job. Volunteering is a positive activity that can you feel positive.
  • Have a Response for Intrusive Questions: Have you ever been in situations such as parties or family functions and you’re bombarded with irritating and intrusive questions about your love life that trigger feelings of inadequacy that go along with social anxiety? It helps to either change the subject or walk away completely, or if the person talking to you continues to be intrusive come up with a good comeback. Good comebacks include, “It’s none of your business” or “Take a good look at yourself”. Also, when you’re coming up with these comebacks it’s important to be aware of your body language and the level of assertiveness you project, because if you say something with confidence it’s showing that you mean business.

You are who you attract. Learning how to cope with loneliness in a healthy way can have a positive affect on your relationship choices. If you’re in a positive and healthy mindset you’ll attract someone who also has a positive and healthy mindset. Also, the same law of attraction applies to negative people, so owning up to your feelings of inadequacy can go a long way.

How do you cope with holiday related loneliness?

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What is FOMO and How To Overcome It?

In this week’s blog I’ll be exploring the concept of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

What is FOMO?

FOMO is anxiety that occurs when an exciting or interesting event is happening somewhere else and is often aroused by posts seen on social media. 

What Are Some Examples of FOMO?

FOMO has always been around. Remember the old idea of “Keeping up with the Jones”?! The idea that stems from person A being jealous and envious of person B’s new car or new house so Person A starts experiencing feelings of inadequacy and anxiety associated with the Fear of Missing Out except it’s with materialistic possessions. 

The FOMO I’m referring to is social media driven and more extreme than Keeping up with the Joneses. It’s the fear of missing out on social interactions, novel experiences or other potentially satisfying events.

Who is Affected by FOMO?

Between 75 to 80 percent of Americans have some kind of social media account. However, more than 50 percent of social media users experience FOMO and it’s the most common among the 18 to 33 year old age bracket.

What Problems Are Caused by FOMO and How Do You Overcome Them?

FOMO affects us in numerous ways including:

Extreme Social Anxiety: Social anxiety occurs when everyday interactions cause significant worry and self-consciousness about how others perceive you. In a way FOMO is a more extreme form of social anxiety that causes someone to feel anxious that they’re missing out on bonding time with other people.

How To Overcome Social Anxiety:

  • Reducing Social Media Usage: This may not seem like much, but it’s a start.
  • Self-Help Manuals: Self-help manuals are intended to supplement therapy and are great tools for working on yourself.
  • Therapy: It helps to find a therapist that specializes in anxiety disorders and they can work with you to develop coping skills and also get to the cause of your social anxiety.
  • Meditation: When you’re compulsively chasing after experiences due to FOMO it can make happiness an illusion. By practicing mindfulness you can become happier by focusing on the present moment and feeling a deeper sense of meaning from it.
  • Journaling: Evokes mindfulness and helps someone remain present while keeping perspective.
  • Learn How To Keep Negative Thinking Under Control: I mentioned in my post, “How to Turn Anxiety Into A Superpower”? that anxiety is characterized by a tendency toward negative thinking due to over generalization. This way of thinking is transformed with reframing, which is a process where negative and unhelpful thoughts are identified and replaced with positive and empowering ones.

Depression: Overuse of social media caused by FOMO can cause depression. Also, depression is an indication of an underlying source of stress caused by spreading ourselves too thin when we do too many things.

The opposite of FOMO is JOMO. JOMO (Joy of missing out) describes the joy people experience when they take a break from social activity. We tend to overload our lives with social obligations than necessary and we lose sight of how to enjoy the present moment.

Perceived Low Status: People have always been concerned about their social standing, however social media induced FOMO has resulted in a bigger obsession with social standing resulting in more anxiety and feelings of inferiority.

Feelings of perceived lower status caused by FOMO may be part of a much larger problem. The negative feelings of having a perceived lower status can be triggered by FOMO; have you ever started questioning about whether you’re happy with your job or happy with your current friends?! Do you feel like your social standing is feeling affected by these things? The feelings of unhappiness or insecurities dredged up by FOMO may be an opportunity to take a break from social media and think about how you can become happier and more fulfilled in your life.

Loneliness: Many people use social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to keep in touch with friends they meet offline. However, there are many people that use social media as a substitute for real connection and they develop feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. These feelings are enhanced if you are dealing with FOMO.

When you’re feeling lonely it helps to reemphasize relationships. I’m not talking about online dating which is the biggest source of FOMO. Instead spend more time with your family and friends offline doing group activities and can increase the quality of our relationships.

Reduced Self-Esteem: FOMO can lead to reduced self-esteem; this can go hand-in-hand with the depression and loneliness brought on by social anxiety.

How to boost self-esteem:

  • Be Kind To Yourself
  • Learn How To Say “No”
  • Accept that Nobody’s Perfect
  • Accept that We All Make Mistakes
  • Focus on What You Can Change
  • Do What Makes You Happy
  • Show Gratitude for the Small Things

Mood Swings: Mood swings are a normal occurrence, but they can also be an indicator of an underlying problem such as FOMO. 

Mood swings can be caused by many social media induced issues including stress and anxiety, getting off schedule and disrupted sleep. It’s important to talk to a professional about this, because mood swings can be a sign of a much bigger problem than FOMO.

Social Media Addiction: FOMO can lead to a compulsive desire to stay connected with other people’s lives online.

The general over-use of social media may be the root of the problem. It helps to take a break from using social media. Instead of compulsively checking Facebook and/or Instagram several times a day focus on other ways to keep your mind occupied including hobbies, exercising and socializing with people offline.

Having a Hard Time Committing in Case Something Else Comes Up: This happens a lot not just on Facebook, but also on online dating platforms. The paradox of choice involved with the fear of buyer’s remorse when we go car shopping is similar to FOMO when there are too many choices. Feelings of fear, guilt and anxiety can creep in if you miss out on something due to FOMO.

Due to the paradox of choice it can create problems with committing to anything. It’s important to evaluate these choices and prioritize which ones you choose based on what you truly value.

Feeling That You’ll Never Catch Up to Everyone Else: FOMO makes people perceive that they’re falling behind in life when they compare their accomplishments with someone else’s on social media and also seeing how much better their lives are compared to yours. The sense of urgency it creates results in increased anxiety and fear.

Most people use social media to exaggerate in order to make their lives seem a lot better and more fun than they actually are. It helps to take a step back and realize that these exaggerated lives don’t exist. Also, realize that these people have problems in their lives too but won’t post it on social media.

Conclusion

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is anxiety that occurs when we get mentally aroused by social media posts of events or experiences happening somewhere else.

Problems that can occur with FOMO include social anxiety, depression, loneliness and reduced self-esteem that result from social media addiction. However, being aware that these problems are happening are the first step toward overcoming FOMO.


If you are struggling with anxiety please click on the button below to download a free anxiety expert guide.

Have You Ever Experienced FOMO?

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