Counselling for Loneliness & Feeling Isolated
In our connected world, it may be hard to believe that anyone could be suffering from loneliness, “surely with all the ways we can communicate with others, social media, mobile and facetime, no one is lonely?” and yet loneliness and the pernicious effects of feeling cut off are on the rise.
Loneliness does not afflict just the old or the immobile but can affect you at any age or stage of your life.
Counselling and Therapy for Loneliness helps you to look at what has led up to this current state of feeling lonely and how you can move forward to connect again.
Being Alone or Being Lonely?
We all understand the feeling of being alone or solitary in fact we often seek it! A few solitary minutes, hours, or, for some, days, can be a thought worth savouring and something to enjoy.
However, when being alone continues for long periods of time, when we feel cut off from others it can have a profound and debilitating effect on a person, turning into loneliness or isolation and creating strong feelings of depression, hopelessness and lack of meaning.
Feeling connected with others, in whatever form this feels right for you, is an essential human need. When this connection is not there, for whatever the reason, the feeling of loneliness has a profoundly negative mental and physical result.
What causes loneliness?
There are all sorts of reasons you may find yourself coping with loneliness or feeling isolated which can lead to depression. It can often sneak up on you without you realising it. You may be surrounded by people in the centre of a big family, a large community and still feel lonely. Sometimes there can be a ‘trigger’ that sets off feelings of loneliness. Here are some examples:
Loneliness & Old Age
Older individuals are more vulnerable to loneliness, for a variety of reasons:
- Retirement or leaving work and losing the regular contact with, and the support of work colleagues, Life Transitions.
- Ill health and physical disability leaving the person feeling weaker, frailer and leading them to becoming housebound and so less able to participate in a social life
- Losing partners or close friends or family following their death, leaving you left behind and alone
- Close friends or family moving away so leaving you behind and alone
The impact of feeling lonely results in a negative impact on the physical body which can further exasperate things such as not being able to leave the house or “not feeling up to much”. This can be similar for those with an illness or a physical disability
Loneliness following Bereavement
The death of partners / friends / those who knew your history and shared memories can cause a sudden feeling of loneliness that was not there before. Coping with Bereavement.
Loneliness & Lack of self-esteem – feeling unable to make connections with others
Low self-confidence and low self-esteem can cause you to avoid socialising or participating in social interactions and could be something you have encountered all your life, or is a new experience and something that has come on suddenly following an accident or event you have suffered.
Isolation & new mothers or parents trying to cope with a demanding baby
It is impossible to overestimate the impact that a first child can have on one’s life. Feelings of loneliness & isolation are common and normal. Becoming a parent is a life altering experience and the ‘pre-parent’ individual you once were can seem a million miles away. Coping with Postnatal Depression.
Perhaps you are grieving the loss of things from that ‘pre-parent’ life that you did not realise you would miss.
Perhaps you are finding yourself in a ‘new life’, one that you are unfamiliar with and consequently feel lonely in. . . and wondering “are other new parents feeling this way?”
Transitional changes in life & Loneliness
These can often bring up feelings of loneliness & Isolation, for example:
- being menopausal if you’re a woman,
- retirement can lead to the loss of your sense of self and the social and support network you enjoyed in the workplace
- moving locations, houses or jobs and feeling isolated in the new and unfamiliar environment where it seems everyone else feels ‘at home’
These things are important to us and when we lose them to move across or into something else, feelings of loneliness & isolation can emerge
Relationships & Loneliness – Feeling a sense of loneliness in the ‘wrong relationship’?
Are you with someone but feel alone / a sense of loneliness? What is going on in the relationship that is creating this feeling? Or perhaps your relationship has ended and you feel a loneliness you have never felt before that is leading to other feelings such as anxiety, depression or a worry about the future. Coping with Separation, Divorce & Break-ups.
Empty Nest Syndrome & Loneliness
Empty Nest Syndrome is about much more than a house feeling emptier than it did previously.
For some, having children to ‘cook for’, ‘care for’ and organise feels like a large part of their identity, and their reason for existing. For many, the role of ‘being a parent’ has been a part-time or perhaps even a full time ‘job’ and so losing that ‘role’ cause many different emotions to surface, of which loneliness can be one.
How Can Counselling for Loneliness Help?
Counselling is place where you can explore your feelings of loneliness & isolation and discover what the root of those are for you. It could perhaps have been triggered because of one or several things from the above list, or your feelings of loneliness or isolation might have arisen from another situation or set of circumstances.
It could be a feeling that you find hard to understand, when you think to yourself, “I have a wonderful home / partner / life and yet I have no idea why I feel lonely or isolated”.
The process of therapy for loneliness is about exploring and discovering what has lead you to this point in your life in order to gain an understanding of it. This understanding can be the beginning of shifting the feelings of loneliness and depression.
In some circumstances, practical challenges to loneliness are relevant and some practical work can be done. This is particularly relevant if part or all the issues around loneliness are about feeling a sense of low self-esteem or lack of confidence. Cognitive behavioural therapy can be useful at this point for some practical tools.
Useful Advice & Further Information About Loneliness and Coping With Empty Nest Syndrome
An article filling the psychological ‘void’ when your last child leaves home.
How to Overcome Empty Nest Syndrome
The Huffington Post
An article about some things you never knew about ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’
4 Things They Never Tell You About Empty Nest Syndrome
A clip from a recent programme that focused on ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’