The majority of us have experienced some type of loneliness in our lives. For many, it is a fleeting feeling, lasting only hours, while for others it persists consistently, leaving them feeling lonely all or most of the time. If your feeling of loneliness persists, it may be affecting your health.
How Does Being Lonely Affect Mental Health?
Loneliness itself is not a mental illness but it is often closely linked to conditions such as depression, sleep issues, and stress. In addition, Counselling-Directory states that the effects of loneliness can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is more damaging than obesity. The site also claims that research shows loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%, as well as increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Clearly, loneliness can affect your mental and physical health. For the sake of your health, seeking counseling is a wise decision if your feelings of loneliness persist.
How Can Counseling Help With Loneliness?
Of course, counseling isn’t a cure for loneliness. While having an impartial person to speak to will already lift some of the weight of loneliness off your shoulders, counselors will also work with you to help you overcome it and learn skills that will prevent it from returning. Every counselor is different and their methods will vary, but below are some of the strategies your counselor might take to help you get back to living a fulfilled life. In general, there are four areas that counselors may target:
- Changing maladaptive thinking: As our loneliness increases, we tend to search for rejection or hostility. If we’re already experiencing these feelings, it’s natural to learn to expect it and therefore search for it. Counselors will work with you to help you understand that this is an unhealthy way of thinking and teach you how to stop thinking this way.
- For example, let’s say you’re at an office party. Jennifer, who is normally outgoing and bubbly, seems to be quiet and withdrawn. For those who are experiencing this maladaptive thinking, you may think that something you’ve done has caused Jennifer to act this way when in reality, it has nothing to do with you. But because you are feeling this imagined rejection and hostility from her, you’re leading yourself into becoming less social at the party, perpetuating your loneliness. A counselor will help you understand that Jennifer’s mood has nothing to do with you, and that you shouldn’t let it affect your mood.
- Enhancing social support: Loneliness is often caused by a change in circumstances, such as the death of a loved one, a move to a new area, a divorce, etc. In cases like these, seeking counseling allows you to experience the support of a counselor because you may not have impartial outside support.
- Increasing social skills: For those who find that their loneliness is caused by an inability to create and maintain close relationships, some counselors are able to help you develop skills to help you create relationships. This often includes teaching people how to engage in conversations, take and give compliments, talk on the phone, and just work on being less socially awkward.
- Creating social interaction: Feeling lonely occurs when there is no social or emotional interaction. This type of counseling helps people to increase their social interactions, through group therapy or other group activities.
Overcoming loneliness is not something that you can do alone. If you feel that you don’t have anyone to help you escape these feelings, seeking the help of a Thriveworks McDonough loneliness counselor is your best option. Schedule an appointment today, just call 678-853-5849.