Combating loneliness and isolation
One of the positive outcomes of coliving is that it helps to combat 21st century isolation and loneliness. By providing communal areas, such as kitchens, dining rooms and work spaces, as well as encouraging taking part in group activities and events, coliving areas are built for human interaction. Human beings are social animals, relying on these social connections to survive and thrive. Coliving spaces help foster and nurture human connections as their foundations lie in the meaning of community.
This is especially important with the increase in isolation and loneliness the modern world is seeing. One in four Australians reported feeling lonely at least one day a week. The average person in the United States of America has only one close friend, and within that, 75% of people say that they’re unsatisfied with their friendships. This feeling of disconnect can take a large toll on our health and well-being. For example, higher levels of loneliness are associated with higher levels of anxiety, as well as lack of energy, and sleeping issues. It is not just the older generation experiencing feelings of loneliness either — 63% of Generation Z (within the ages of 18 to 22) feel like “no one really knows them well.”
Although many of us appear to be popular and connected, we are lacking depth and meaningfulness to our relationships. So what can you do to combat feelings of loneliness?
Understand and acknowledge your loneliness
When we feel lonely, we often interrogate and blame ourselves, thinking that something is wrong with us. With these negative thoughts, we can get caught in a vicious cycle and become our own worst enemy. We become a critic to our own selves, when really we should be our loudest cheerleader.
So, next time you feel lonely, know that there is nothing wrong with you. If you really investigate it, you are probably spending lots of time with different people and have great social cues, rather it is a lack of real connection you are craving which is bringing out these feelings of loneliness. And that’s okay. There are options and opportunities available for you. Instead of feeding the inner critic, talk to yourself as if you were your own best friend.
Figure out where these feelings are coming from. Is it your environment? Are you living alone, have you just moved to a new location? What is happening within your personal circumstances? Are you experiencing a loss or separation? How do you treat yourself? How do you talk to yourself? Once you understand where your loneliness comes from, you can take active steps to remedy this feeling.
2. Investigate if there are any underlying mental health issues
Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can contribute to loneliness and social isolation. Start with a visit to your GP and then consider seeing a counselor or a psychologist.
3. Use technology for good
Although social media can also replace human interactions, making these connections more shallow — it can also be used as a tool for good. You can find special interest groups and meetup groups online, which all provide a multitude of opportunities to hang out with people and make authentic connections. If you join a regular meetup club, such as a sporting group or yoga club, you have something to look forward to and engage with each week. You have a commitment to show up too and if you chose to take part in a group activity that brings you joy, you are more likely to find like-minded people too and “find your tribe.”
You could also try something new to change up your perspective and add yo your life experiences. There is also volunteering as an option as well.
But do remember, that forming true friendships does take work. It takes about 50 hours of time together to move from acquaintance to a casual friend, 90 hours to move from this, to the status of “friend,” and then over 200 hours before you can consider someone your close friend. So, don’t feel disappointed if you aren’t feeling true connection straight away, keep showing up!
4. Show up as the authentic and real you
Fake it till you make it, can be a great way to move forward and confidence can be built through training! To start with, let go of the expectation that you have to be perfect and get every human interaction right. Be vulnerable and honest to the people around you. The most important thing is to try your best and remember as Dr. Seuss put it “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
If you show up as your true self, you’re more likely to make those real connections you’ve been craving, as you’ll be magnetised to people similar to you.
What are your tips to battling loneliness and social isolation?