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Who Invited Loneliness to the Party? Beat it Away

By Donna Kostiew

My daughter has never had a problem making friends and being well-liked in high school. She is confident, she is an overachiever, and she is always involved with one activity after the next. But as soon as she started to fill out college applications last fall, I began to worry that for some reason, all of that would change. She was applying to schools way across the country and the chances that she wouldn’t know a soul once on campus were high. And that scared me. It scared me because she needs a tribe, and I wondered what would happen to her if she suddenly didn’t have one.

Loneliness is that insidious little weekend companion that over time, and without us really even noticing, suddenly unpacks and sets up life in the extra bedroom down the hall. It’s a normal feeling and we have all experienced it at some point in our lives. We tend not to worry about it too much at first because it’s usually situational and it’s often temporary, but it does have a way of establishing roots and growing into something dangerous and chronic.

When loneliness makes that nasty turn from occasional roommate to the unwelcomed squatter, it doesn’t take long before problems with a person’s emotional, mental, and physical health start to crop up.

Effects of Loneliness

Loneliness can have a real impact on us, and a lot of it can lead to some dark places.

  • Loss of sleep
  • Obesity
  • Compromised immune system
  • Depression/suicide
  • Substance abuse
  • Feelings of isolation, resentment, anger

So what can we do to combat this invisible enemy and how do we step away from it so that we can develop meaningful, intimate connections with other people around us? The easy and most common answer is to join some clubs. (Imagine me saying that with a ton of spunk and a smile from ear to ear while giving you the “thumbs up” sign … because isn’t that how everyone seems to respond?) Ugh! The more difficult and realistic answer is that loneliness must first be recognized, acknowledged, owned … whatever word you want to use, but it must be looked at square in the eye and treated for what it is. After that happens, an appropriate response, or plan, can follow (including our favorite … join some clubs!).

Fight Back with These Ideas

If you're looking to beat loneliness and depression, don't sit on the sidelines. Get in the game. You can't score if you don't play.

  • Strike up a conversation. With anyone. Anywhere. Even in the line for coffee
  • Explore your faith
  • Volunteer
  • Adopt a pet
  • Join social media and find those groups/clubs that interest you
  • Take risks by asking others to join you for lunch or for a walk

We should be grateful that loneliness feels so uncomfortable because it serves as a reminder to pay attention to what is going on. As for my daughter? She’s killing it at college, but I still find myself asking her who she eats lunch with.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Culver City, Calif.

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