These Signs Shows that You Are Lonely
It’s important to mention that there’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely - they are not the same thing.
Introverts, for example, value alone time - seeing it as central to recharging mentally and emotionally.
Chronic loneliness, on the other hand, leads to feelings of isolation - of having no one there to talk to, turn to, or be with when you want to. So, are YOU lonely?
And how can you tell? If you have the following signs, loneliness could very well be the culprit.
1. You’re Constantly Tired
It turns out that sleep and loneliness are closely linked. One study revealed that feelings of loneliness and isolation led to higher instances of disrupted sleep, as well as exhaustion during the day. As of now, it’s not clear why this is.
One reason may be that loneliness contributes to other issues like depression, which impacts sleep. Or, it could be that a lack of genuine social interactions affects how the brain operates.
2. You Take Long Hot Showers
Ok, this may sound a bit odd, but let me explain. Current research shows that physical warmth can generate feelings of social warmth.
And much the same, physical coldness can create feelings of coldness, and vice versa.
People often self-regulate feelings of social warmth by using physical warmth, whether or not they realize it.
And so, if you ‘re obsessed with long, hot showers, or stay in a warm bath until you look like a prune, you could be unknowingly leaning on physical warmth to counteract the effect of social coldness.
3. You Feel Down In The Dumps
While those with depression often isolate themselves, low mood and sadness are also closely connected to loneliness.
Social support makes us feel like we are valued, that others care about us.
But if you cut yourself off from people, you can lose sight of this, damaging your self-esteem - as you doubt people’s opinions of you.
If you’re isolated from others, you can drop into a cycle of negative thoughts - feeling less and less engaged with the world.
4. You’re Always In Pajamas
Have you ever made it to the end of the day and realized that you don’t need to get changed because you’re still in pajamas?
Well, if this happens a lot, it could have more to do with loneliness rather than laziness. When someone is dealing with chronic loneliness, their motivation is negatively affected; This includes simple things like looking after themselves or their appearance.
Not caring about things like ‘appearance’ reflects how isolated a lonely person can feel; if you feel disconnected from others, you are less likely to put in the effort.
5. You Feel Anxious In Social Situations
Loneliness enforces cyclical feelings of isolation, which is what makes it so damaging to your mental health.
When we feel alone and cut off, we’re less likely to feel the drive to go out and actively socialize.
As a direct result of this, social anxiety begins to build up when we think about social events in the future. Socializing is a skill - like driving.
If you drive every day, your skills stay sharp, and you feel confident in your ability.
But if you fall out of practice and suddenly need to rely on these skills again, you may find yourself consumed by panic and doubt in your abilities.
6. You Are Hooked On Social Media
These days it’s hard to find someone who is NOT on social media - as it’s so ingrained in our lives.
But if your phone is glued to your hand all the time, this could be a warning sign.
Social media addiction and loneliness seem to be tied together. Social media is a virtual source of recognition and validation, causing lonely people to gravitate toward it.
According to studies, people who spend two hours or more a day on social media are twice as likely to feel lonely, compared to those who spend thirty minutes or less.
7. You’re An Excessive Shopper
For many, shopping can be a great way to de-stress and relax. Yet, overdoing it could point toward a deeper issue.
Buying something new often gives you a rush - which, of course, is not a bad thing.
But some people use this rush to try and fill the empty feeling that loneliness brings.
Research reveals that lonely people tend to amass material goods to try and ‘make up’ for the necessary social interaction and experiences that are missing in their lives.
8. You’re Eating A Lot Of Junk Food
Loneliness and craving junk food often go hand in hand. Socializing boosts oxytocin and dopamine - which cause a positive emotional response, so when we’re lonely, we miss these ‘Happy Hormones.’
Junk food gives an artificial pathway to some of these hormones, but in the long run, this isn’t sustainable - and it only leads to health problems caused by poor eating habits.
9. You Gained Weight
Turning to food to make up for our moods means that loneliness tends to correspond with weight gain.
Loneliness can also rob us of our motivation - turning an active person to a couch potato - in no time.
The lack of motivation also means that loneliness could become a contributing factor in future health troubles, like high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
10. You’re Aging Prematurely
Loneliness is a potent stressor, impacting the natural flow of various cellular processes that occur in the body - making you disposed to premature aging.
Loneliness doesn’t just cause you to turn to comfort food; it can also push you to overdo it when it comes to alcohol or other substances, leading to dehydration - another factor that impacts cell function.
As a result, fine lines and wrinkles appear prematurely, making signs of aging more noticeable.
11. You Experience Physical Pain With No Logical Explanation
Have you ever experienced physical discomfort that occurred alongside feelings of loneliness?
Well, it’s not in your head. Emotional pain can crossover into real, physical pain.
New evidence is coming to light that speaks of how going through emotional distress and times of social isolation rely on some of the same neurobiological substrates that underlie experiences of physical pain.
Lonely people’s brains register feelings of ‘threat and pain signals’ that are similar to real physical pain and danger.
12. You Have Frequent Headaches
While headaches are not all that uncommon, they CAN be another side-effect of loneliness.
Loneliness causes feelings of depression, and this poor emotional state leads to two-thirds of lonely people experiencing headaches.
When dealing with depression, your threshold for pain drops; and the negative emotions brought on by loneliness means that migraines and headaches can become more exacerbated.
13. You Always Seem To Be Sick
Your physiology can be negatively impacted by loneliness, in shocking ways - the most surprising being how it weakens your immune system - making your ‘immune response’ focus on bacteria instead of viruses.
The result is a higher risk of getting viral sicknesses, an example being the common cold. However, scientists don’t have a specific answer as to why this happens. Talk about adding insult to injury!
14. You Are Canceling Plans
Those who are socially isolated have a much lower likelihood of sticking to plans or appointments.
The more time you spend alone, the harder it is to find the drive to push yourself out of the same routine.
When the only person you spend time with is yourself, it gets harder and harder to push for change, even becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you expect to stay at home all day, you probably will, and this enforces a negative pattern. And obviously, the current Lockdown scenario is an exception.
15. You Are Overworking
Burnouts at work could be pointing to deeper feelings of loneliness. Whether you overwork can depend on the current situation at the workplace, and the decisions you make while working.
However, many people push themselves to keep working, even when it’s clear that they need to rest and manage their workload.
Why do you need to work so much? The truth is, you don’t; work is likely a distraction to keep the underlying feelings of loneliness and isolation from really taking hold.
If you are sacrificing your health just so you can put more time or effort in at work, you need to take a step back and look at why that is.
16. Your Memory Is Fading Away
Loneliness not only negatively impacts your emotions but your memory too. For some, loneliness arises from depression - with research showing that being confused and having a weak memory both link to depression.
If loneliness impedes memory, it can undermine your overall focus. Your decision-making skills and your ability to think clearly can also suffer as a result of this.
If you’re all by yourself, your interactions are limited - you don’t meet new people, and therefore do not need to remember names, birthdays, or other personal details.
The less social interactions you have, the less you talk. As a result of this, your brain’s receptors aren’t sending or receiving signals, which impairs your memory skills as time goes on - raising the risk of dementia.
17. You Hang Out With Other Lonely People
Loneliness can spread through a ‘contagious process’ just like a cold.
Even if you don’t directly feel lonely, your social network could change that.
Although it seems hard to believe, if the people around you feel lonely, you could ‘catch’ these feelings of loneliness as well.
Research suggests that if someone you have a connection with is feeling lonely, you are 52% more likely to experience loneliness yourself.
Loneliness can happen for a multitude of reasons - maybe it’s because you lost your job, a relationship ended, or you feel like you’ve hit a plateau in life.
Remember, you CAN fight back against loneliness, but first, you need to address it and keep your eyes open for the warning signs.
Staying positive, assessing your emotions, and not getting overwhelmed by ‘negatively inclined thinking patterns’ will help you stand firm against loneliness.
And if you find that feelings of loneliness are enduring day after day, don’t be afraid to lean on others for support, or to seek professional help.
Now that you’re aware of some of the warning signs of loneliness, is it possible that maybe you’re lonely?
And as always, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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