Loneliness is not a pleasant feeling. Such transient lone phases in life are common but a prolonged one can have a serious bearing on your wellbeing. Not that the signs of a loner cannot be identified but very often these are overlooked considering it as the person’s choice which may not always be the case.
Loneliness is way different from solitude where it comes by choice. At times, people seek that aloneness to be with themselves and are quite comfortable with it for some time. It is sometimes looked upon as a healthy way to regain mental balance by rewiring the mindset and thought process.
Signs of feeling lonely may be quite subtle and the person concerned may not be aware of it. It can be felt even when you are surrounded by your loving family and friends.
Loneliness can be killing:
The former US surgeon, General Vivek Murthy observes loneliness as the most common pathology instead of heart disease and diabetes. Expert opinion published in thisisinsider.com says, chronic loneliness is equally dangerous to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and kills more people than obesity.
Loneliness was even declared a public health issue that can cause hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, inflammation and not the least depression.
9 Unhealthy and identifiable signs of a loner:
So how to check whether you or somebody very close to you is lonely or not?
1. Irregular sleeping pattern:
Lesser sleep hours at night is common with young generation though not desirable. One can make up the loss with daytime naps. But if you sleep late at night owing to some blue-screen activities and even do not feel sleepy throughout the day for a considerable period of time, it is high time you take note of it. It is a subtle sign of a loner which is normally overlooked.
2. You become more possessive of materialistic belongings:
A link exists between materialism and loneliness. In a study with 2500 people for more than 6 years showed that loneliness drives people to do more shopping. If you find yourself indulging in a shopping spree to fill some void, you may be going through a rough patch of loneliness.
3. Taking hot showers for a long time:
A person feeling socially cold or lonely is likely to seek a substitute for social warmth and the warm showerhead of your bathroom can be the immediate source. Researchers have observed a link between the physical and social warmth in a study published in “Emotion”, a scientific journal. If you are enjoying warm showers for a long time, you are unknowingly displaying one of the signs of a loner.
4. A consistent inclination to make a mountain out of molehills:
Loneliness creates a high level of stress perception. If a person shows more than normal levels of stress, the person is lonely. Lonely people mostly have high threat perceptions that add to their stress. It has a serious effect on their mental health and may lead to hypertension.
5. Spending more time on social media:
It is one of the vital signs of a loner. A study says spending more than 2 hours a day checking social media is associated with real life social isolation. It is not clear which causes what- whether social media drives to loneliness or vice versa. But one thing is for sure, replacing real-life interactions with virtual ones is bound to affect your well-being.
6. Checking phone frequently:
Lonely people tend to dwell in a secondary world where nothing exists but them and their fakeness. They often pretend to be too busy and fake checking messages from friends and colleagues. The worst part of it is to pretend texting or calling somebody on phone!
7. Messing up with things a lot:
This is a clear sign of a loner especially when this messing happens with closely related persons. They have the habit of ruining things that are working fine be it in a relationship or at the workplace. For some reason, they get the feeling that they are distanced which in reality is not and take hasty moves without caring for the feelings of others.
8. Inexplicable weight gain:
While this may indicate depression by and large, it is also a sign of a loner. According to a mental health counselor, loneliness drives towards overeating. When we miss some personal interaction, intimacy and touch, we tend to fill ourselves with food.
9. Suffering from frequent attacks of cold:
This may not be a telltale sign of a loner but the possibility cannot be ruled out given the fact that loneliness can weaken the body immunity system. A study by UCLA observed lonely people are more vulnerable to viral attacks than bacterial infections.
How to stop being a social recluse?
If you can identify 1-2 signs of a loner in you, it is high time to come out of the cocoon and get rid of social anxiety disorder. Here are a few useful tips:
1. Learn to value social interaction:
Even if you are a content introvert, you should value social interaction. This has a positive effect on your mental health. Unless, you value real-life social connectivity, you won’t be able to stop being a social recluse.
2. Limit your online time:
Virtual relationships online are very tempting for a lonely person. It is entirely not a bad thing if you intend to develop your conversational skills but not seek an escape route to avoid face-to-face conversation. So restrict your online interactions and focus more to enhance real interactions with people.
3. Try developing soft skills:
You need to have minimally decent skills to make people around you feel comfortable and will help you to get out of social anxiety disorder. Start spending more time with other people and watch their gestures and way of talking. Joining a local club or tutoring kids can help.
4. Breaking the shell:
Those not comfortable with initiating conversation may not find it too easy. Develop a habit of talking with locals with a welcome smile. Simple enquiries about their wellbeing help in setting the tone of social interaction.
5. Pick up the social cues:
While amongst people, look out for the cues that may be welcoming you for interaction. A friendly smile, simple Hi and Hellos and other gestures like waving often indicate an invitation for interaction. At least, you can exploit these cues to your benefit.
6. Join the lunch party with colleagues:
As a loner, you are bound to have your lunch in a secluded corner; nothing wrong in it. But at times do have lunch with your colleagues or team mates amidst a good conversation.
7. Do not harbor negative thoughts:
For a seemingly lonely person, it is tough to get accepted in a circle right away. People are doubtful and there may be quite a few rejections at the start. Accept it but do not lessen your efforts to be a social animal.