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Why People Confuse Loneliness With Depression, And What To Do Instead

Why People Confuse Loneliness With Depression, And What To Do Instead

We all feel lonely sometimes. But, extended loneliness is different. It’s much harder to break out of, but once you overcome it, you can start meeting new people and making friends.

Unfortunately, this extended loneliness can be caused by the confusion of loneliness with depression.

It’s important to understand what loneliness is, how it works, and most importantly, how can you get out of it.

Loneliness has roots in our biology…

The Feeling of Loneliness Is Good For You

Loneliness is a Signal. It’s as if your biology is telling you “Hey, Pay Attention! You’re in danger here; you need to get back with people!”

Why is that?… It’s simply because we have been wired that way. Thousands of years ago, if you were lonely, it was a real threat… you might die.

At the time, loneliness meant you were alone, hunting alone, going through the forest by yourself, and having no one to watch over you when you’re sleep.

Chances are good that you were not going to make it.

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This sheds some new light on your loneliness. It actually might have some value!

It’s like thirst or hunger… it exists to REMIND you of what you need to do, in order to stay alive.

But here is the trick…

Loneliness often makes you feel that you are in danger, and you shouldn’t go exploring. And that means, in our time, that socializing and making friends feels dangerous.

This is what you need to be careful about. This is why people often confuse loneliness with depression.

Loneliness causes them to fear being criticized by people, which leads to more hiding and avoiding social situations…, which leads to more loneliness! (This is what I call The Loneliness Trap)

Bummer!

Let’s look at what you should do instead…

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What You Need to do if You’re Feeling Lonely

Loneliness is the feeling of not being connected with people. That sad feeling prevents you from socializing and talking to new people.

In order to relieve that, consider this…

Charity.

The fastest way to stop loneliness is to go do some charity work. Work in a soup kitchen, at a homeless shelter or some sort of community service where you visit children or senior citizens in hospitals.

Even doing this just ONCE, can help you switch to other side of loneliness…

This works because it alleviates the feeling of being threatened by people. You see that people are grateful and happy to receive your help. You cause them to smile and find some hope. Once you experience that people are good, decent and grateful, you may feel “okay” again around people.

Family and Old Friends

Go talk to family members and old friends that know you well. Ask them about what there are going through these days. Find out what troubles them and what’s making them happy. Try to make them feel positive and congratulate them on anything good they’ve been doing.

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THEN… talk a little about your situation. Tell them about what you’re excited about and what troubles you. Explain to them a little about it to make sure that they understand you logically AND they feel what you’re feeling. This will ensure that you feel connected to them, and will cause loneliness to go away.

Start Making New Friends, and Build Your Social Circle

Building a nice circle of friends around you is the surest way to get out of the loneliness trap, once and for all.

If done right, a circle of friends allows you to go out often, share your life’s problems and glories, have fun, decrease stress, and celebrate your life. (Trips, birthday parties, nice dinners, and awesome parties)

Just imagine how your life would be if you had a nice circle of friends that understood and believed in YOU, and encouraged you along the way…

But, the beauty of it is that you don’t have to always “work” at it. You don’t have to call everyone and do all the work for people to gather up and meet. If you do it well, a circle of friends just “takes care” of your social life, with minimum effort on your part.

People start to call YOU, and make plans for fun.

Building a social circle is a two-step formula: 1. Make New Friends, 2. Introduce them to Old Friends.

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Yes, I’m over simplifying here…

However, if you do this enough times, you’ll no longer wish you had ONE interesting person to go out with; you’ll instead have a GROUP of friends that you like.

If you want more info on how to meet new people, and make friends with them, you can visit my website and subscribe to my free Social Skills Newsletter.

See you there,

– Paul

Featured photo credit:  businessman with gas mask watching TV via Shutterstock

More by this author

Paul Sanders

A communication expert who tries to help people improve their social skills and make friends anywhere.

How To Be More Social If You Are an Introvert How to Keep a Conversation Going and Never Run Out of Things to Say What to Do When You Have No Friends and Feel Lonely 7 Tips How to Make Friends During College 5 Reasons Why Your Social Life Isn’t Improving, And What To Do About It

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

More Health Tips

Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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