Sometimes having time to yourself can be a great thing, but prolonged social isolation can have some very negative effects on a person. When a person is lonely, they are affected both emotionally and physically. Many of these physical and emotional symptoms can understandably have an impact on a person as the isolation progresses. While many carers are faced with periods of loneliness, there are many ways to cope with and combat it that will allow you to better your overall wellbeing. The goal of this article is to better inform you of what exactly loneliness is so that you can identify it within yourself or others, as well as learn skills that can help you when loneliness strikes.
- What is loneliness?
Loneliness occurs when a person feels sheltered or isolated from others, which in turn, causes deep feelings of sadness. Carers are often faced with loneliness due to them needing to focus so much time and effort into the individual they care for. When the caring role is the number one priority, things like socialization and hobbies may be set aside. Over long periods of time, this may begin to take a toll on a person and they ultimately may start to feel isolated and lonely. When a person is lonely for a prolonged period of time, there are both mental and physical symptoms that may arise.
- Am I experiencing loneliness?
When a person is experiencing loneliness, they are more likely to have difficulties handling stress. When faced with a difficult situation, those who are lonely are more likely to have trouble handling and working through it than those who are not experiencing loneliness. With this, there is also a risk of things such as high blood pressure, appetite changes, muscle tension, and headaches due to the inability to handle certain stressors.
Individuals who are facing loneliness may also have issues with sleep, such as trouble falling asleep and issues getting the correct amounts of rest. This can understandably take a toll on the mind and body over time. Those experiencing loneliness are also at a higher risk for developing depression. Problems with memory or focus and a decrease in motivation, which are common signs of depression, also may arise with loneliness.
- How to combat loneliness
While loneliness may cause you to feel restrained and restricted, there are many quick and easy things that can be done to help break out of the isolation you are feeling. Socializing is one of the best ways to combat loneliness, but this can understandably be difficult when you are having to care for a loved one most of the time. Allotting time for short meet-ups with friends for a quick cup of coffee would allow for you to step outside of your caring role for an hour or so to spend time with a friend. Socializing with other carers can also be beneficial, as you can share experiences and feelings with someone who understands what you are going through. A list of carer support groups can be found at the end of this guide.
If getting out of the house is not something that your caring role will allow you to do, today’s technological world lets you socialize without even having to go out through the use of social media. Social media allows users to stay connected with friends and family even if they are not physically able to spend time together.
When you’re facing loneliness, it might feel as though you are the only person that is going through it. The truth is that you’re not, as over 80% of carers have reported these feelings of deep loneliness in their own situations. Being able to understand what exactly loneliness is, what the signs are, and how you can overcome it is important information to have as a carer. Getting out in the community and interacting with other carers can make all the difference in your life and ultimately allow for you to make lasting friendships with people who are going through the same thing as you!