Timothy is ten and he is lonely. At school he keeps to himself. After school he returns to an empty home as both his parents work. Mustaffa is in the army doing his National Service. He feels lonely in the camp. Jennifer has just broken off a relationship and she feels lonely. Siva has lost his wife of forty years and he misses her. He feels lonely. George has retired and he has lost contact with former colleagues, clients and business associates. He feels lonely. Loneliness can hit us at any time and at any stage of our life. We should not let it get the better of us. We need to, as the expression says, take it by the horns, fight it and banish it. In this post I will discuss what is loneliness, how it is brought about, the health problems associated with it and ways to overcome it.

What Is Loneliness?

Loneliness is an emotion which causes people to feel unwanted and alone. When you are lonely, you are isolated from others and you feel sad as you are without friends or company. From the examples I have stated above, it is clear that loneliness does not occur just because one is on one’s own. Rather it is the perception of being alone, the sense of being alone. So you could be with other people and still feel lonely. A good example is the elderly person who lives with his or her family and yet feels lonely. Loneliness among the elderly is a major problem in the world today. As many more people are living longer, some live on their own, others are with family members or in retirement homes. Many are lonely.

What Causes Loneliness?

Loneliness can be caused by a number of factors. We can feel lonely when we lose a partner, when a relationship breaks down, when we get older and are not as socially mobile, when we move away from our family and friends and when we experience discrimination. Some elderly people are affected by loneliness because of blindness, a loss in their hearing and a loss in mobility. Caregivers and single parents may not be able to go out often and meet other people. Hence, they may be lonely.

Then there are times when we feel lonely because of a lack of self-esteem and we are not able to like ourselves. Sometimes we isolate ourselves to avoid being hurt. Research has found that people who may have experienced negative and harsh parenting are more prone to loneliness. People with poor social relationships also tend to experience loneliness. Lonely people experience sadness, depression, pessimism, anger and they may lack empathy with other people.

Health Problems Associated With Loneliness

Researchers have concluded that loneliness can cause a number of health problems. It can affect a person’s ability to sleep well which will result in the person feeling lethargic the following day. It can increase depression and suicide. People who are lonely may experience a rise in their blood pressure. This may, in turn, result in a stroke and cardiovascular disease. Loneliness will increase our stress levels and lower our sense of wellbeing. It will also weaken our immunity level, decrease our memory and learning and cause people to engage in antisocial behaviour and be poor in decision-making. It can also bring on premature death.

Ways to Banish Loneliness

1. Be aware of the ill effects of loneliness, what it is, how it manifests itself and what can be done to overcome it. Find out as much as possible about it. This will help you to cope with your own loneliness.

2. Cultivate a few friends. You don’t need many but the few that you have should be good and supportive. Talk to them. Confide in your friends. Express your views.

3. Contact other people, especially people you have not seen for some time. Write email messages, leave notes on social media platforms and just reach out. Do not tell yourself that they are not interested to hear from you. You will be amazed at how much people value interacting with others.

4. If you are a retired person, keep in touch with your ex-colleagues. See them from time to time. Staying away from your ex-colleagues will cause you to feel isolated.

5. Invite people to meet you for a drink, or just for a chat. You can meet anywhere and the interaction that you have will keep you happy.

6. Meet your family members, speak to them often, engage with them. Plan and share good times together. Family support is very valuable.

7. Organise a potluck party. Each person brings a dish, a drink, a snack and everyone shares. It is inexpensive and the element of surprize adds to the fun of the occasion! You talk, you laugh, you communicate and you have fun!

8. Undertake community service so you can meet people and feel happy serving others. Help out in a home for elderly people, work with children with disabilities and help the visually handicapped and other disabled people.

9. Get involved in activities. Join a club and participate in the activities. Meet people, join a class, a book club, a gardening club, play games, attend talks, discussions, forums. The people you meet will be those with the same interests as yours. You will need to motivate yourself to go out and be about with other people.

10. Learn to like yourself. Develop a positive self-image of yourself.

11. Do not isolate yourself. Be with other people.

Do not succumb to loneliness. Banish it. I leave you with this quote from Mother Theresa:

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”


  1. Thank you for your articial on Loneliness. Often being alone, is associated to loneliness. One can be alone, but not lonely. Is being detached from, and not attached to…

    There isn’t any fun in being with people who constantly think others are just acting and pretending. And perhaps, there are some in the world who enjoy being alone just for that simple reason.

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