If random people were asked on the street to state the major health concern in the United States, you’d likely get responses such as drug abuse and obesity. Although these entities are at an all-time high, there is an even more serious issue that one out of every four adults is facing. The problem: loneliness disorder. Loneliness is explained as feeling emotionally disconnected from the world. When combined with social isolation, being physically disconnected from others, loneliness can feel even more overwhelming. However, drowning in feelings of loneliness doesn’t have to be the solution. The following five steps can help in overcoming loneliness and living a life that feels both shared and rewarding.

#1 Admit That Loneliness Is Normal

Getting to know that others around the world are suffering from the same loneliness disorder symptoms is one of the initial steps to deal with loneliness. The numbers on loneliness vary from study to study, country to country, but a recent study conducted by AARP found it to be over 40 percent.

“How could these figures be so high?” you might ask. After all, the social media platforms and the use of the internet make it easier than ever to connect. However, an interesting thing about Aloneness is that it is subjective. Because it is related to feelings, it’s likely to feel lonely even if you have a significant other, friends, or children.

Therefore if you’re looking for a solution on how to overcome loneliness in your own life, just realize that there are hundreds of thousands of others feeling the same way. This normal feeling is one that almost every experiences at some point in their life, and it’s something that you can overcome.

#2 IDENTIFY THE EFFECTS OF LONELINESS SO YOU CAN FIGHT THEM

And it’s important that you do so. According to some famous articles on loneliness, the following facts about loneliness hold true:

  • Loneliness can ruin your sleep. Since aloneness puts your body on ‘high alert,’ it can make you more susceptible to sleeping problems. Insomnia and lack of true rest can both be an outcome of loneliness.
  • Loneliness can be felt. Research shows that being alone can make you feel colder than those around you, can increase blood pressure and cholesterol, and can also stop your immune system from working properly.
  • Loneliness can affect your mental health. As it increases, so do anxiety. One of the main symptoms of depression is that you no longer wish to do things that you once enjoy, including spending time with your close friends. In case you think that your feelings of loneliness may be a small part of a much more bigger issue you should think about seeking help from someone who specializes in assisting people to figure out how to handle loneliness.
  • Loneliness leads to self-destructive actions. Gambling habits, drug abuse, and other self-destructive habits have all been linked to loneliness. Finding a cure for aloneness can stop these habits from developing in the first place.

#3 GET PROFESSIONAL HELP TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO OVERCOME LONELINESS

Getting help from a mental health professional is one of the most useful things you can do if you are trying to figure out how to deal with loneliness disorder. A specialist can assist you to explore the factors behind your destructive feelings. Other issues surrounding your aloneness can be addressed too. For instance, if you’ve recently lost a close friend or family member, you may be facing both grief and loneliness. Having an experienced person help you through the healing process can make all the difference.

#4 NURTURE EXISTING RELATIONSHIPS

Believe it or not, aloneness can make us pull away from our family members, or close friends, even when we need them the most. By taking care of the relationships you already have, you can put yourself on a path to overcoming isolation. When the people you once connected or closed with feel distant, it can be difficult to take the first step towards fortifying those relations. Here are a few ideas for connecting again:

  • Invite someone out for lunch.
  • Schedule time every day to visit with or call a friend.
  • Use social media platforms to reconnect with those friends you’ve lost touch with due to distance or time.
  • Join a group or club with a friend.

#5 PRACTICE POSITIVE SELF-TALK

When you’re feeling all alone, and you begin to think something like “Ugh, I just hate my life, no one loves me or wants to spend time with me,” you’re adding to your aloneness. Now, you’re not only losing social connection but also taking a beating to your confidence. Try to catch these thoughts as they come and change them with a positive message instead. The method of positive self-talk needs practice, but it can be part of a cure for loneliness.