Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Loneliness

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Loneliness

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Okinawa

Worldwide many people suffer from loneliness and isolation. In a survey conducted by the American Osteopathic Association, 72 percent of Americans reported feeling lonely. Loneliness is an experience we all share. Feeling lonely isn’t in itself a mental health problem, but the two are strongly linked. Having a mental health problem can increase your chances of feeling lonely. People are busy living their independent and separate lives. In the rush to accomplish daily activities, indifference, and feelings of isolation can creep into your mental health. Everyone seems busy, maybe too busy to say hello or smile. Yet being a part of humanity; we all need affection.

There are several types of loneliness. Loneliness of estrangement when we hold back from a person we’ve been close to in the past. Loneliness of feeling rejected the result of reaching out and having the other person turn away. Loneliness of separation resulting from being away from people or a person we care about. Loneliness of physical isolation and being physically apart from people. Loneliness of alienation for example moving to a new city, country, neighborhood and not knowing anyone.

Today if you want to meet someone, you go online, then swipe left or right; it’s quite mechanical, less humane. As Pink Floyd wrote in his song, “We are just a brick in the wall,” but this leads to indifference. Being lonely, isolated, or feeling unwanted is a terrible feeling. Being unloved can make you lonely. Yet, each one of us has to struggle against negative self-talk to maintain positive emotional health. But don’t wait until you are totally depressed and having a negative relationship with yourself before you volunteer to help yourself. “The worst thing about loneliness is that it brings one face to face with oneself.”― Mary Balogh

The feelings of emptiness and loneliness go together. People are dependent on other human beings, and society has a great emphasis on being socially accepted. If you are well-liked, then you are a social success. If you are filled with ill will and negativity, this will create distance between you and others. Some may look at you negatively due to you depressive demeanor. Not to be liked, can lead to despair. Despair can lead to not caring about your body, appearance or health, and even drug or alcohol abuse. In turn, this can lead to depressive despair, anxiety, substance abuse and suicide. According to a study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, loneliness is a significant predictor of mortality, with the risk of premature death increasing by 26 percent.

Loneliness is an emotion. Being alone is a choice. Sometimes you need to be alone to enjoy your free time being yourself. It takes time to learn how to be alone, without being lonely. Being alone is good, but being lonely is the worst. Loneliness eats away at you. Lonely is a feeling when you think no one cares.

So, how do you self-care? First, don’t give yourself bad information. Stop negative self-talk. According to a study by health insurance company Cigna, loneliness is associated with a decreased sense of purpose in life and lower levels of overall wellbeing. If you don’t have a reason, create a short-term goal. Work with a friend or family on vision development. You need a reason to live. Seek volunteer opportunities, take a dance class, or try a new hobby.

Look at your internal dialogue and your poor habits. What are you doing that is not in your best interest. No exercise? Overeating? Careless eating habits? Drinking too much? Smokin’ and cokin’? This is a negative relationship with yourself. Be your own best friend. Your negative habits effect your emotional health and have a cumulative effect. Do you want to be sick or healthy? Happy or sad? In shape or out of shape? When you’re not happy with yourself, it’s for a variety of reasons. Maybe you think you have many personal inadequacies. Then you chip away at your self-concept and self-esteem, and little-by-little you begin to believe you are not a worthy person. This is the beginning of a negative relationship with yourself. And this leads to you preventing yourself from taking care of yourself. Then your quality of life suffers. Now, you’re unhappy. Don’t get lost in your mind. It’s okay to cry when you need to. Emotional health should be your top priority.

Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at his website or email. Follow his YouTube channel Hilary’s Quick Talk for more insights.

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