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August 6, 2010 at 2:48 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Reach Out To A Lonely Friend

By Helen More Blogs by This Author

Loneliness can occur regardless of age, demographics, financial situations or other unrelated health problems, and often leads to depression and self neglect. So, while loneliness is usually easy to detect, correcting the problem is not always as simple. 

What is Loneliness

Loneliness can be caused by a variety of everyday occurrences such as death, loss of a friend, divorce, or a multitude of other emotional, mental and physical issues. Loneliness is different than just being sad or unhappy for a few hours or days. Loneliness is a deep-seeded emptiness - an emotion so disturbing and debilitating that it can feel as though the bottom of your world has dropped out. You might feel like the only person on the planet, or worse, that you are invisible to others on the planet. This type of disease can manifest through many channels and for many reasons.

Loneliness and Self-Neglect

When a loved one is lost to death, divorce or even estrangement, severe loneliness can set in. This type of debilitating sadness is often followed by lack of appetite. Poor nutrition can cause sleep disruptions and malaise as well as depression. It's important to seek the help of a professional long before this level of disparagement is reached. People who are lonely often fall into a lethargic state of mind. The surprising thing is that even level-headed individuals who know they must eat better if they are to be healthy may ignore their needs. The perception is that it�s hard to make a decent meal for just one person, it�s no fun eating alone, mealtime is for celebrating, and they have nothing to celebrate. In the end, they simply don�t eat. While all of these reasons are legitimate, when a person allows simplistic thinking to override important issues such as taking care of themselves, it may be time to seek professional help.

Being Stuck At Home is a Major Risk Factor

When a person is shut-in due to an injury, disease, or emotional issue a person can easily become very lonely. Lonely minds often wander into dangerous territory. They blame themselves, opening the door for self-loathing and loss of self-respect. Any disease or injury that leaves the individual holed up too long can create this cycle, until the person that is suffering is actually feeding these negative feelings with negative self-thinking, avoiding social situations and even watching sad movies, reading sad books, listening to sad music. This sort of loneliness and depression cycle can be a hard one to break and while it occurs, self-neglect is a natural consequence. When people don�t like themselves, disorders from anorexia to overeating can arise.  They may let their house become extremely messy. They may let themselves become unkempt.

Reach Out to a Lonely Friend

Loneliness and depression can, and often does lead to  self-neglect, poor nutrition and impaired thinking. The lonelier an individual becomes, the more likely he is to ignore his health and well being.Here's a couple ideas:

1. Invite Them Over for Dinner. If you want to help someone who is lonely, a good place to start is the dinner table. No one likes to eat alone. Offering to cook a meal for a person who is lonely is a good place to start; offering to cook a meal with a person who is lonely is an even better place to start.

2. Help Them Around the House. If you know them well, offer to help them around the house. You don't need to offend them by commenting on the mess. Tell them you understand there are somethings that are hard to do alone. If they need extra hands for moving something or to work in the yard, volunteer. Make it date. Bring over snacks and refreshments. Play energetic music.

3. Plan a Night. Try and plan a fun night for the weekend. A funny movie is great, but an activity where you both can talk is even better. Cooking a dish together, or playing a game, taking a walk, working on some sort of craft - these are all great ways to spend time with a friend, and help lift their loneliness.

4.Offer an Ear and a Shoulder. It can be difficult for some people to talk openly about their problems.  They don't want to be a burden, yet, it's HUGELY therapeutic and very important that they DO share their feelings with someone. Open the door to that conversation by making them aware that as their friend, you are concerned for them. You see that they are unhappy. Then let them talk and cry if they want. If they shrug it off and won't admit to it, accept that too, but continue to be there for them in their lives. Some people just need time. You don't have to and shouldn't make it a recurring topic of conversation, but by letting them know there is someone that thinks of them and wants them to be happy, you have done an amazing thing for them.

Sources:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VB8-4K717WJ-1&_user=10&_coverDate=10/31/2006&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1369835493&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=038d6f47c5c14331d65e4a16c5126f03

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091201084047.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/grief/mh00036

http://nursing.advanceweb.com/Student-and-New-Grad-Center/Student-Top-Story/Compulsive-Hoarding-in-the-Elderly.aspx

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=869

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