How can you help a loved one suffering from loneliness?

Everyone suffers from loneliness at one point of time. The root of loneliness can vary – losing a loved one, being misunderstood by peers or facing a major change in their lives. Regardless of the cause of loneliness, the consequence of prolonged isolation can be severe. Victims of loneliness may face repercussions varying from increased stress level, decreased memory and learning, cardiovascular disease and stroke to depression and suicide.

Ironically, just like love, loneliness also comes in many forms. Some common ones are – “I’m different” loneliness, where an individual is not necessarily in a new environment but is surrounded by people whom he or she cannot relate to on a deeper level.

There is also “no-time-for-me” loneliness, where one is surrounded by people who are friendly on the surface level but do not want to transition from friendly to friends. It is nothing personal, after all people are busy with their own lives, or have many friends in their life already so they may not seem as interested in becoming more than acquaintances. At the same time, maybe one’s existing friends have entered a new phase in their lives where they no longer have the time and privilege to just “hang out” like they used to because they have to work long hours, have started or family or basically, their priorities have changed.

In addition, there is also the “unworthy friends” loneliness. Maybe it is the way they talk about someone else’s affairs to you or your group of friends, that makes you feel like you simply cannot trust them with matters that you need a second advice on.

Just like how there are solutions to problems, there are ways you can help a loved one or even yourself suffering from loneliness. One way to start is to practice empathy and kindness. Understand that not everyone is on the same wavelength and that everyone is fighting their own battles that we do not see. You never know how meaningful an act of kindness can be to that neighbor whom you see in the lift every day on your way to work. Showing kindness to someone and having them appreciate or reciprocate, brings a warm feeling to your soul and may even spark a friendship!

Start having deeper conversations with your friends and family and get to know them on a more personal level. The act of sharing one’s personal battle to another brings two closer to each other especially if both individuals have walked a similar path before.

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