How social isolation weakens social skills
Loneliness affects the mind and can make you sick. But how do those affected get out of this uncomfortable state? You have to take action: Experts recommend lonely people to specifically seek contact with others - be it by speaking to strangers in the supermarket, participating in a VHS course or doing voluntary work.
Help from professionals
Even loneliness in spite of the many people around you can only be resolved on your own initiative. Anyone who feels misunderstood by friends and family or left alone by their partner should address this and look for solutions together. But often this is easier said than done. The way out of loneliness, regardless of the nature, turns out to be difficult for many affected.
In this case, professional support can be helpful and point out ways to change your own condition - therapists and counseling centers are the right people to contact. In the course of psychological support, it often turns out that the loneliness is caused by insecurity or a reduced sense of self-worth.
Mindful instead of lonely
One study suggests that mindfulness exercises can help in coping with such problems. Subjects who had completed a two-week mindfulness training not only felt less lonely. They actually had more social interactions in everyday life than before.
"Accepting yourself and your own experiences - even when it is difficult - can have transference effects on social relationships," explains David Creswell of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "Because those who accept themselves more openly also open up more to others."
Sometimes loneliness is not a fundamental, but a short-term phenomenon - the contact restrictions to contain the coronavirus are a current example of this. Not being allowed to embrace family and friends anymore, not being able to “socialize”, that can cause a feeling of loneliness even in people who are actually mentally stable and socially well networked.
Virtual contact options can help in such a situation: Communicating with loved ones via chats and video calls creates closeness at a distance and allows at least a little participation in the lives of others. Of course, digital media cannot replace real contact in the long term.
Loneliness as a driving force
So what to do when loneliness hits the mood acutely? Experts recommend looking for a positive benefit in the situation. So being alone can offer the chance to look inward, to develop new thoughts and to be creative.
“Nothing can come into being without loneliness,” the artist Pablo Picasso once stated. And the polymath Wilhelm von Humboldt also believed that the genuinely inquiring mind was primarily dependent on two things, freedom and solitude. The psychologist and loneliness researcher Manfred Beutel from the University of Mainz also sees this condition as something very positive, as he revealed in an interview with Spiegel Online in 2017:
“The feeling of loneliness is not a bad thing per se, it is even vital. Loneliness drives us, makes us reorganize. "
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