Loneliness has become a global epidemic. With increasing divorce rates and shrinking families, a feeling of isolation has become commonplace and people can easily start out feeling lonely and quickly spiral into depression. According to lonelinessbook.org, one in three people are lonely. “In the USA, statistics on loneliness show a rising increase in the numbers of people affected by loneliness. Over fifty years ago, only ten percents of households were composed of just one person. In less than fifty years, that percentage jumped to 24% (Globe). The increase of the value of independence has resulted in a major cultural change throughout the decades, and along with a higher rate of death and divorce, more and more people live alone.”
The U.K. and Canada also join the U.S. in loneliness statistics. The lonelinessbook.org found research in London from report by the BBC with statistics from Sheffield University that shows that thirty percent of the city’s population feels lonely. Canadians also find loneliness as an issue. The lonelinessbook.org said, “Canadians are supposed to be social per a culture with a focus on success and society, just like the cultures in America and the United Kingdom. The loneliness facts in Canada? Another steady rise in households of only one individual. Research on loneliness shows that in 2006, 26.8% of Canadian households were composed of just one person. Yet, 65 years ago, that percentage was only 6.8% (Handler). That is a rise of twenty percent!”
Feeling lonely can happen even when people are surrounded by others. However, it seems that the loneliness epidemic spreads with the growing number of single-person households. Lonelinessbook.org said, “According to loneliness research gathered in 2004 by Duke University, the average person has fewer close, personal relationships with other people with whom they can share matters of a personal nature. The average number of confidants per person dropped from three to two (Handler). While that loneliness statistic is bad enough, the study also determined that the number of people who do not have even one person in whom they can confide is now three times the number at the start of the surveys in 1985 (Handler).”
So what can you do to step out of loneliness?
1. Journal and visualize the types of relationships you desire in your life. Often times the first step in reaching our goals is to imagine the people and characteristics you desire.
2. Take an attitude of gratitude. While journaling, write down the major things you are grateful for and look for the good in people, places and things.
3. Make connections. We all get busy with our daily lives that we forget to pick up the phone and talk to a friend or family member. Organize coffee dates or lunch to connect with people and make the close, meaningful relationships that you desire.
If your loneliness feels like it is leading toward depression, seek help with a therapist. You deserve happiness and although our emotions may bring up feelings of embarrassment or shame, it is okay to ask for help. There are times in our lives that each and everyone of us needs help from one another; you don’t have to do it alone.
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