There are 6 common behaviors that indicate loneliness, but many people don’t realize it. In fact, loneliness plagues 1 out of every 5 Americans, and can be detrimental to your physical health.
If you or someone you know might be lonely, be on the lookout for any of the following behaviors.
#6. OFTEN IN BED, BUT NOT SLEEPING
Studies suggest that lonely people spend a lot more time in bed, but a lot less time sleeping. Chronic loneliness can cause insomnia because you need to feel secure in your social environment in order to sleep well. Also, the effects of loneliness can make you feel like you need to get in bed, even if you aren’t tired.
Solution: Your view of the world or your current situation is usually the culprit, so seeing a therapist, structuring your days, or exploring everything from medication to exercise can be helpful, according to psychologists.
#5. FACEBOOK ADDICTION
One quick Google search is proof that multiple studies have been conducted regarding Facebook addiction. The common denominator of their results is that people who are addicted to Facebook are trying to fill a void of social interaction. This behavior is counterproductive, because most people only present the best sides of themselves on Facebook, so a lonely person who’s constantly scrolling through their newsfeed is regularly seeing others looking their happiest – which only encourages self-isolation.
Solution: Get in touch with an old friend instead of stalking their profile. Trying to fill a social void with virtual content is like looking at a picture of pizza when you’re hungry instead of actually eating it.
#4. EXCESSIVE AMOUNT OF LONG, HOT SHOWERS
Yale psychologist John Bargh, PhD, conducted many studies that showed lonely people take longer and hotter showers. Actually, according to his results, the lonelier the person, the longer the shower and the hotter their preferred temperature.
Solution: Bargh found that physical coldness equals feelings of social coldness, and a lot of people don’t realize it. Taking that hot shower is making you feel better inside, so seeking out warmth in other ways can also be helpful. Drink hot chocolate, start a fire, or curl up with a heating pad to help soothe your negative feelings.
#3. OBSESSED WITH NEEDING TO BUY MORE ‘STUFF’
It’s called “material possessions love,” and it’s another big sign that you’re trying to fill a void by buying things.
Solution: Research has repeatedly shown that having more things does not increase happiness. Starting a hobby or planning a vacation is much more healing than getting a new TV or another pair of shoes. It also puts you in situations that expose you to social interaction, which is what you’re really in need of.
#2. WEIGHT GAIN
Here you are, filling that void again, only this time you’re doing it with lasagna and ice cream. The common theme from most of these behaviors is addiction and excess. Whether it’s food, ‘stuff,’ lying in bed, or social media, you’re using easily accessible things to replace human connection.
Solution: Be social. A study showed that socializing can actually help you stay skinny. The research was only done using mice, so take these results with a grain of salt. But the idea makes sense if you know you’re eating too much because you feel lonely.
#1. ALWAYS SICK
You might think a lot of human contact exposes you to more contagious illnesses, but loneliness can potentially make you even sicker.
Psychologist John Cacioppo from the University of Chicago has done numerous studies on the biological effects of loneliness. He’s found that lonely people have much higher rates of all-cause mortality, high blood pressure, cancer, infection, heart disease, inflammation, high blood pressure, and learning and memory problems.
The reason why: Isolating yourself makes your immune system lazy toward viral invasion because it has a fixed fighting capability; it has to decide whether to focus on protecting against viral threats or bacterial invasions. If you’re chronically lonely, you send signals to your body that bacteria is more of a threat to you than a virus.
Solution: According to Cacioppo, two of the best ways to treat loneliness are to train yourself for the social skills you need to view the world positively and to share good times with good people.
If you consistently fall into any of these behaviors, psychologists say your best bet is to start nurturing your relationships – because finding just one person to connect with can make all the difference in the world.
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