Loneliness is a huge issue, and when people start to reach the 40 and 50 age demographic, it doesn’t take long before they discover that they are lonely. The kids may have flown the nest or you may be widowed. In a recent study in the UK, two-fifths of older people said the television is their main source of company.
Study after study has demonstrated the dangers of loneliness on health. This guide is going to explain to you the dangers of being lonely, why it happens, and what you can do about it.
Why Loneliness Happens
People who hit middle age are likely to become lonely for a number of reasons. This is due to the transition you are going through at this stage of your life. You may have already seen the kids leave home, or you may be divorced and living alone.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, you can be surrounded by people and still be lonely. It’s not the number of people you speak to on a daily basis that matters. It’s the quality of the relationship and what you get from speaking to these people.
This tends to creep up on people and they don’t notice they are lonely until it’s much too late. Family members and friends may have drifted away for whatever reason.
The Dangers of Loneliness
Many studies have been conducted into the health risks of loneliness. In many cases, chronic loneliness and isolation can be just as bad for your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.
The main danger of loneliness is that it’s a cycle that continues to repeat itself. Someone feels lonely and they feel bad. They withdraw and feel even worse. This cycle can continue over a period of years until the person starts to develop mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression.
In extreme cases, it can even lead to self-harm and suicide. That’s why people who feel lonely need to get out of this vicious cycle fast.
How You Can Create Strong Midlife Friendships
Unfortunately, there are few resources that are available to help you escape a pattern of loneliness. Most programs concentrate on people who have already retired. Thankfully, it’s relatively simple to develop meaningful relationships and cure loneliness at middle age.
Here are some of the steps you should follow to go about making friendships that last.
What You Crave – You can have lots of friends and still feel lonely. The reason for this is that you may not crave a friend but a lover. You may want someone who can develop a closer bond. This is a common feeling among divorcees and widows.
Current Avenues – You may already have a number of avenues to explore. For example, you may have previously avoided any gatherings in the office. This is an avenue to explore. Have you really spoken to the people you associate with on a day-to-day basis?
Creating New Options – You really need to look into putting yourself in positions where healthy friendships can happen. Look into what you enjoy and whether there’s a group in your local community that facilitates that.
For example, you may decide that you want to get fit and healthy. You can do this through joining a group exercise session. You will talk and come across people whom you really identify with.
It Takes Time
It’s important to mention that this is not something that happens quickly. As already mentioned, it’s not the quantity of friendship but the quality. You need to find someone who really makes you feel good about yourself.
Persevere and make sure you are being consistent in your efforts to beat loneliness. A proactive approach is the key to making it work. This isn’t going to happen by itself ad you are not going to run into your best friend for life.
Remove Toxic Friends
Toxic friendships can be as bad as having no friends at all. During your midlife period, you need to think about what your friends mean to you. Evaluate them inside your head. The main question you should be asking is whether you feel good when you’re in their presence?
If you have a friend who constantly brings nothing but drama and hurtful gossip to the table, you may need to think about cutting ties with them. There are some people you should drift away from.
If you can create meaningful relationships for a better future, there’s no reason why you can’t live a healthy and long life.