Don’t let loneliness and anxiety get the best of you!

February 05, 2014

Everyone gets lonely or feels anxious at one time or another. But when loneliness or anxiety threaten to take over, it’s time to do something about it.

Loneliness seems easy enough to fix, until you’re the one suffering from it. Even if you have plenty of friends and social contact, it’s still easy to feel lonely. Loneliness isn’t necessarily the absence of human contact–it’s depression caused by feeling that we aren’t being heard, understood, and appreciated.

To deal with this feeling, you must first learn to like yourself. If you like yourself, it’s easier to deal with being alone, to not depend on others for your sense of identity and self-worth. Remind yourself frequently of what you like about yourself, and combat those negative internal thoughts that make you need external validation. Liking yourself also makes you more relaxed, which makes it easier to make social connections, which in turn helps combat loneliness and anxiety.

That may sound like a case of “easier said than done,” but with practice, it does get easier. For the positive affirmations, you might benefit from keeping a journal of positive thoughts. Whenever you think of something good about yourself, write it down. Even something as simple as being organized, liking your smile, or being a good neighbor should go on the list. Then when the negative fears start, you can refer to your list of positive attributes.

For both anxiety and loneliness, one of the best remedies is exercise. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym: going for a brisk walk, hopping on the stationary bike, or even just doing jumping jacks in your living room can give you the same effect. The key is to get your heart pumping. Aerobic exercise has the unique ability to both stimulate and calm, to relieve depression and anxiety, and to energize and relax you.

There are both chemical and behavioral benefits of exercise. Exercise reduces the amount of stress hormones in your system, and at the same time, it stimulates your body to produce endorphins, which are your body’s natural mood elevators. Out with the bad, in with the good: exercise gives you a double-edged mental benefit. On the behavioral side, you’ll feel better physically and feel better about yourself, which enhances your self-image.

If regular aerobic exercise isn’t enough to reduce your anxiety levels, try deep breathing exercises. Breathing exercises are easy to learn and don’t require you to buy any special equipment. It’s can be as easy as forcing yourself to concentrate on your breathing and consciously relaxing your muscles.

Anxiety and loneliness can be treated at home with some of the techniques mentioned above. However, if your symptoms are not improving or if they become worse, you should seek professional help.

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