Loneliness and depression can damage us emotionally, physically and socially. Particularly vulnerable are the elderly and single souls among us. However, someone sitting in a crowded room can feel lonely if they have no common interests with the others around them.
Loneliness can strike anyone, and is usually the result of an inability to establish relationships with others. This inability to establish relationships may be circumstantial. The elderly are less mobile and dependent upon others to come to them or provide transportation. Many avoid celebrations because they can’t hear well or because noisy rooms are incompatible with hearing aids. Or maybe they are infirm and afraid of falling in a crowded home with children playing and large dogs jumping up on guests. So they decline invitations.
Loneliness can be a maladaptive protective mechanism to protect an individual from rejection. For those of us who may be less confident, or who have experienced significant rejection, reaching out to others is a scary proposition. So rather than be rejected, this person may build a protective wall by sitting alone during the holidays.
Ways to conquer loneliness:
- Share your feelings with someone you can trust. A family member, a friend, the clergy, or a therapist are great resources. Just talking about loneliness can help chase it away.
- Avoid social media! Reading about someone else having a fabulous time while you are sitting home alone only increases your feelings of loneliness.
- Practice self-care. Get plenty of sleep, exercise or start an exercise program, or go walking. Even warm baths have been known to lift spirits.
- Volunteer. Helping others is a great way to help yourself and there are many volunteer opportunities in southeast Wisconsin. Try Volunteer Match for volunteer opportunities in your area.
In addition to everyday loneliness, many individuals are also affected by seasonal affective disorder - appropriately known as SAD. This condition is a type of depression related to a lack of light during dark months. This seasonal depression affects about 10% of the population with another 20% affected to a lesser extent.
If you would like to talk to someone about your loneliness or seasonal depression, please call Summit Counseling at (262) 933-1071 or schedule an appointment.