Loneliness is bad for your health. Frequently feeling lonely can raise your levels of the stress hormones, cortisol and norepinephrine. This has a number of negative effects on your health. It increases blood pressure, putting you at higher risk for heart disease, it impairs your immune system, leading to more frequent illnesses, and it increases inflammation, which increases your risk for a number of problems, including depression, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. These aren’t small effects either. Some studies estimate that the health effects of chronic loneliness are comparable to obesity or smoking. What’s more, the rate of loneliness in the US appears to be increasing. Loneliness is of particular concern to anyone struggling with depression or addiction. People with depression tend to isolate themselves even more, leading to a downward spiral, while people recovering from addiction may feel tempted to use when they are lonely. If you frequently feel lonely, it’s important to address the issue. Here are some ways to do it.
Reach out to friends and family
Few people are really alone in the world. It’s far more common for people to be reluctant to reach out to friends and family for a variety of reasons. If you feel isolated, it may be best to start with the people you already know and try to strengthen existing relationships. Invite someone to coffee or lunch. Make it a point to stay in contact with the people you care about. It may take a little time but it will pay off eventually.
Take a class
Taking some kind of class is a good way to make friends. It doesn’t really matter what the class is. It could be yoga, spin, painting, cooking, or organic chemistry. Getting together with the same people with common interests every week is a great way to make friends.
Go to mutual aid meetings
If you are recovering from addiction, attending mutual aid meetings is an easy way to find some social connection. 12-Step meetings are the best known kind of mutual aid group, but there are many others, including SMART Recovery and Refuge Recovery. You can regularly talk to people who have had some of the same experiences you have. Many friendships have formed in mutual aid meetings.
Limit social media
Social media, ironically, can make you less social and more miserable. While the stated purpose of social media is to connect people, people most often use it to brag or rant. As a result, people who spend the most time on social media end up feeling envious, alienated, and depressed. The best use of social media is to coordinate real life plans with friends.
Get a roommate
If it’s practical, you might consider getting a roommate. It’s a good way to feel less lonely, even if you aren’t often home at the same time. You get to know a new person and you have an extra means of social support in an emergency. It also doesn’t hurt to save money on bills.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.