How Do I Overcome Loneliness
Written by Dr. Mel Tavares
We all experience loneliness that needs to be overcome. Nothing has caused more loneliness than the pandemic we find ourselves living through. Isolation. Quarantine. Remote learning. Remote work. Social Distancing. Masks that cover smiles. Eyes that avert. Family vacations canceled. We connect on social media but the more heavily we use it, the worse we feel. The result for many of us is a complete feeling of disconnect and loneliness.
Loneliness Impacts Physical Health
Loneliness and isolation can lead to health complications if left unresolved. Loneliness becomes a higher risk factor the older a person gets. Those battling loneliness are more likely to develop heart disease, strokes, and dementia. A sedentary lifestyle coupled with poor nutrition leads to physical disease and a lack of stimulation to the brain leads to dementia. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising will help overcome loneliness.
Loneliness Impacts Mental Health
It isn’t just single people who struggle with loneliness. A person who is disconnected from others in the home, the workplace, a classroom, or a church can still feel isolated and alone. As loneliness increases, the risk for depression increases. Left unattended, it will lead to poor choices such as substance usage, making wrong relationship choices, wrong food choices, and self-neglect. To overcome feeling lonely, it is important to set mini-goals to stay focused on good hygiene, and good lifestyle choices.
Loneliness Impacts Spiritual Health
Loneliness can make people feel empty, unwanted, and alone. While a person may crave human contact, the state of mind may make it difficult to form connections. We are created to need each other, but if loneliness sets in, making the effort to go to church can be overwhelming. We begin to wonder why we are here on earth, what our purpose is, and question God. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) reminds us that God has a plan for us and that we are on earth for a reason. “For I know the plans I have for you“, declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.” Don’t let loneliness rob you of all God has planned for you. Take action and implement some practical tips to overcome the loneliness and step into the future God has for you.
Five Practical Tips for Overcoming Loneliness
Create a daily schedule and try to stick to it. Although it may seem meaningless, especially if you are stuck at home, it really will help! Be sure to include one task a day that is a priority, so there is a feeling of accomplishment and a decrease in feeling lonely.
Stay active. Being a couch potato creates more loneliness and depression. If unable to leave your home, check out YouTube Walk-at-Home videos. If at all possible, get outside and be active. You will see people and at least be able to exchange a ‘hello’ and know you are a part of the outdoor community.
Eat healthy and nutritious foods. Overly processed foods are filled with chemicals that suppress your ‘joy meter’. When you feel healthier physically, your emotions will improve and loneliness will decrease. Pinterest is my favorite place to find new recipes.
Find some distractions to keep your mind busy. In-house activities could include reading, painting, doing a puzzle, learning new recipes, knitting, or several other long-forgotten creative past-times. Many community centers offer classes, socially distanced during the pandemic, where a group of like-minded people can come together to learn new skills and enjoy social time to overcome loneliness.
If you are a Christian, you are never completely alone. Once you’ve asked Jesus to be your Savior, He dwells on the inside of you. We do need other people in our lives, but at the end of the day, it is your intimate relationship with Jesus that will help you overcome loneliness. As you read your Bible and pray and learn to hear God’s voice, the loneliness will be replaced with joy and peace.
If you do not know Jesus personally, I pray that you will take the steps to discover who He is and invite Him to dwell in you, that you may know you are not alone. James 4:8 (NKJV) says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
A seasoned therapist and counselor, Dr. Mel Tavares serves on staff in the Pastoral Care and Counseling Ministry in her church. She is the author of several books, including Challenged: Equipping Families to Thrive in Today’s Youth Culture. Learn more at drmeltavares.com
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