While Akon’s hit single ‘Lonely’ was easily one of my most sang songs in 2005, it was also the first time I intentionally paid attention to the word. I did not have a personal sad love story (as in the lyrics) and could not relate, so I really just enjoyed singing along without getting in my feelings.
However, I have met a number of people who relate to both songs and stories about loneliness and I have also come to understand that loneliness does not always connote ‘sad love story’. I had to think in this line again few day ago while resting after a long day at work. It has became a habit to have a gospel channel tuned on tv before sleeping off and it was on such occasion that I heard the preacher talk about the need to help people cope with loneliness.
According to Wikipedia, Loneliness is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation. It sometimes goes further and is characterized by a depressing feeling of being alone or an anxious feeling about lack of communication with other people.
We have all had bouts of loneliness even if it is momentarily, but how we cope with loneliness/help people cope with loneliness determines how much it affects one physically, mentally and socially.
People will deal with loneliness differently. While some can easily find coping strategies that work, there are people who may not be able to talk about their feelings or are just in a situation unwillingly. For example, older people who are being cared for in homes feel lonely sometimes, widows and widowers get their share of loneliness when they think of their loss, orphans get lonely as well, those who get their hearts broken get lonely, people with no friends end up lonely at gatherings and even the most lively people have bouts of loneliness too.
As we all seek to have a meaningful life, this post will list out things we can do as individuals to help other people have meaningful lives as well especially helping others cope with loneliness.
Ways To Help People Cope With Loneliness.
With the assumption that you are in a position to help, and that you care about practicing mindfulness, these easy ways will also aid you live a meaningful life and impact the life of other people.
- Be Aware.
Paying close attention to your friends, colleagues, neighbors and environment gives you the opportunity to observe and see more than the eyes meet.
People go through things daily and might not want to share openly but if you always pay attention, you will notice that colleague that never goes out for lunch or never attend talks to anyone at events.
Being aware also helps you stay interested and curious. You are nudged to ask questions and follow up with people because you are aware and have noticed certain things anomalies. However, the catch is to be mindful with your approach, Try not to make people open up forcefully.
When you are aware, it means you have a good knowledge of how to handle people in this situation. Use your knowledge to help them and sensitize other people.
2. Be Open-minded.
As someone who is mentally aware and intend to help people cope with loneliness, you cannot be caught being judgmental.
If and when you figure out the reason why a person feels lonely, stay neutral and remember that their feelings are valid. Try not to suggest how you would have done things if it were to be you, instead hear them out and offer to help anyway they want you to.
Listen, understand then respond. Explain that loneliness can be a temporal feeling and will not last forever.
3. Be kind/Pay Compliments/Exchange Gifts.
The idea is to make lonely people think more of themselves and boost their self esteem. We also know that validation also helps people feel good about themselves.
If you ever come across someone who is uptight and not as comfortable as they should be, go the extra mile and pay compliments. It is also a good strategy to start up conversations and make them loosen up a bit.
If they have a celebration/birthday coming up, give gifts, invite them out or just be around them on their special days.
4. Be Approachable.
Nothing makes a lonely person remain in their shell like a person who looks unapproachable. Help a person cope with loneliness by working on in your aura, expression and mode of communication. Help a lonely person by reaching out first, help them feel more comfortable about themselves.
If you make yourself available and give off a pleasing demeanor, you just may be helping one lonely person speak up to you. Try starting up small conversations, be respectful but show interest.
Leaving lonely people by themselves can give room for them to think negatively about themselves. When you notice someone is withdrawn, be the person that walks over to find out what is wrong. Also, keep in touch.
People who are left in remand homes, prisons, old peoples home and orphanages are not as opportune as those who have things working well for them. The kids do not have the same parental care as those in their parents house, the old people wish their children can visit often.
These situations do not present the most appealing situation and they sometimes feel lonely. The need all the reason to smile and a constant reminder that life is truly good.
As an individual, you can plan to visit these homes with food items, games or gifts just to lighten up the mood and give them reasons to be happy. This really helps them cope with loneliness and feedback from the care givers confirms it.
6. Teach Them Gratitude.
People who are lonely tend to be caught up in negative thoughts, they regret a particular situation or memory, they sometimes feel there is no reason to live and just want to wallow in self pity.
Again, you can only notice this behavior if you pay attention. You can help them cope with loneliness by teaching them gratitude. Remind them of their wins, the good memories, why they have to give themselves a chance at the good life, have healthy conversations and explain how staying grateful opens more doors.
Remind them of the people who love them, the job they have or things to look forward to and be grateful for.
7. Schedule Self-care Activities For Them.
This is a temporal remedy that hopefully reminds them to appreciate themselves and give themselves the love they deserve.
Set up them up for a spa dates or a new skill to learn. Plan things that will boost their self esteem and lift their spirit.
Sometimes, lonely people are the loudest in the room, they are the ones organizing hangouts, they are the ones with the biggest smile. Other times, they are the direct opposite. As individuals we need to be aware to notice and mindful enough to avoid causing more harm.
Share your thoughts.
Can you tell when someone is lonely?
How do you help them?
I will love to read from you.