Loneliness can make you ill.

By David Joel Miller.

Loneliness has been linked to many illnesses.

While loneliness is a common human emotion, and happens to most people at certain

peron feelng loneliness

loneliness,
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

points in their life, for most people, it is a very negative emotion, with significant consequences. Untreated loneliness can become a debilitating condition, which results in isolation, feelings of emptiness and worthless. People with severe loneliness can feel personally threatened, rejected, and that they lack control of their lives.

Loneliness is often described as the difference between the quality and quantity of the social relationships you have, and the ones you wish you had. Some people experience loneliness only a few times in their life, while other people may experience high levels of loneliness throughout their lifetime. Despite loneliness not being a specific mental or emotional illness, feelings of loneliness play a major role in physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral illnesses.

Loneliness is a risk factor for physical illness.

The health risk from loneliness equals the risk from smoking. (Gerst-Emerson, Jayawardhana, 2015.) Feelings of loneliness make physical health problems worse. Feeling lonely increases blood pressure. Feelings of isolation play a role in eating and sleep disorders. Among people with obesity feelings of loneliness interfere with their ability to lose weight.

Among the elderly, increasing levels of loneliness results in increasing numbers of Dr. visits. While this is believed to be partially caused by a need for more social connection, it may also reflect the way that emotional symptoms are often misinterpreted as signs of physical illness. Fortunately, high levels of loneliness in the elderly do not also translate into more hospitalizations. Among people over the age of 80, more than 50% report being often lonely. Among middle-aged patients, those between 40 and 60 years of age, those who report higher levels of loneliness see their medical doctor more often than those do not report being lonely.

Loneliness makes emotional problems worse.

Feeling lonely has been linked to depression. A common cause of substance use disorder and a relapse trigger for drug and alcohol use are feelings of loneliness. Feelings of isolation can increase stress. Not having a support system makes personality disorders worse, and it has been associated with psychosis, cognitive decline, and dementia. Loneliness can seriously undermine your self-esteem.

Behavioral problems are made worse by loneliness.

Feeling lonely along with binge drinking or drug use increases the risk for suicide attempts. This feeling is also connected with self-harm, such as cutting or other Nonsuicidal self-injury. Loneliness has also been associated with relationship violence and other impulse control problems. Being lonely can make you feel more vulnerable resulting in more vigilance to keep yourself safe, the result is more difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Poor sleep results in an increase in grouchiness and irritability.

Cognitive and thinking problems are made worse by loneliness.

People who are isolated and lack a support system are prone to an increase in irrational decision making. When you feel all alone, your mind can fill with unhelpful thoughts. Sometimes loneliness becomes a positive emotion when it encourages people to look at their lives and seek out more connections with other humans. It’s important to connect with people who will have a positive impact on your life. Don’t become so desperate for human connection that you allow negative, abusive people into your life.

Loneliness damages relationships.

Among couples heading for a breakup, we often find that both parties report being lonely. The higher the feelings of loneliness, the more likely the couple is to break up. If you’re in a relationship and feeling lonely, don’t automatically think you need a new partner. Begin by working on yourself, becoming your own best friend, and learning to not feel lonely when you’re by yourself. Also, work on improving the emotional connection you and your partner have.

If you’re suffering from loneliness and it’s starting to damage your health and your relationships now is the time to reach out for help. Consider getting involved in activities where you can make friends and seeking professional help.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Lonely Holidays

By David Joel Miller

The holidays can be a tough time for many people.

peron feelng loneliness

loneliness
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The season comes with high expectations. Things you should do should have and should be. Compared to your expectations this season can be a disappointment. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you are thinking about who you wish you were with and they are not there it can be sad.

For some folk the only visitors this season will be the demons: sadness, depression, guilt, and self-doubt. Rumination and revisiting the past can generate all forms of unhelpful thoughts.

Loneliness is often accompanied by his pal, emptiness, that giant-sized hole in your middle. There are a host of ways you might try to fill that hole and keep the loneliness at bay. Most of these loneliness cures promise to make you feel better for a moment but at a long-term price. They will reach for the things that only work for a short while. Let’s talk first some things that are unhelpful then review some suggestions for coping with holiday loneliness.

Spending your way to happiness is unhelpful in the longer run.

This season is the time for the annual binge behavior. Many people expect to gorge themselves on things in an effort to make themselves feel better, feel adequate. It is a short trip from treating yourself to a new gadget to thinking that your self-worth depends on your ability to spend and spend.

Don’t have the cash? You can dine on a diet of debt. Many people will be vomiting up their money for the year to come after the overindulgence of debt spending.

There is no magic pill for feeling lonely.

This holiday season people around the globe will look for all manner of substances to satiate that uneasy feeling that they are not what they should be or that what they are is not good enough. Drugs and alcohol are chief among those things that will be abused aplenty.

Some people will discover this holiday season that they too are candidates for an addiction or alcoholism. One dose of your drug of choice makes you forget what is bothering you but at the price of becoming dependent on that drug. Addiction is a gift that keeps on taking.

If you have a health challenge, physical or mental, a diagnosed illness, medication can be important. But no medication changes your unhelpful thoughts and makes your loneliness vanish.

The kind of drug most people will take this year, the self-prescribed alcohol or street drugs will let you forget your discomfort for a moment at a high long-term cost.

Do not let the wolves in the door.

When you start to feel that loneliness knocking at your door it is tempting to let all kinds of harmful people in. People will hook up and reconnect, often with the people who have caused them the most pain. It is tempting to let a dangerous person into your life to keep loneliness at bay, but that creature may destroy you later.

Avoid dogmatism, fanaticism, and revenge.

Dedicating yourself to a cause and trying to annihilate those who disagree is an intoxicant. Trying to make yourself less alone by launching a program of forcing others to agree with your politics, religion or other dogma, may divert your attention from your unhappiness for a while. Inflicting pain on others will never heal the wound in your heart.

Stalking and seeking revenge keeps you connected to the person who harmed you and maintains the pain. Do not believe that someone’s departure from your life is the sole cause of your loneliness. Living the best life possible now is the cure for the loss of someone from your life.

What does work to keep loneliness from entering your life?

Being alone does not equal being lonely.

If whenever you are alone you find yourself feeling lonely and frantically looking for something or someone to help you feel better, the problem is that you have not learned to be comfortable in your own company. Learn to like yourself, become your own best friend. Discover the ways that you can please yourself. In other posts past and future we can talk about things to do when you are alone that are positive and nurturing of you.

Reconnect with positive people.

The holidays are a good time to reach out. Mail or email someone who was a positive influence in your life that you have not talked with in a while. Plan to visit some old friends and some younger ones. Take yourself back to some places that are filled with happy memories.

Pain, loneliness, and regret have a way of pounding on your door. Happy memories wait patiently outside that door for you to invite them in.

Seek out supportive people and give them the opportunity to feel good by being of service.

Self-help groups, 12 step groups, in particular, have all kinds of events this time of year. They conduct marathon meetings, potlucks, and social events so that recovering people do not need to be alone for the holidays. Seek out others in recovery.

Visit a positive online community.

Leave comments, read blog posts, interact with other recovering people. Know that others may be waiting for the blessing of your comment. Look for the good in others and share the best in you.

Practice your religious or spiritual tradition.

Feeling that you are connected to something greater than yourself is an antidote to that empty feeling. Make time this holiday season to think about what you think is important and why you chose that belief.

Feeling a connection to a power greater than yourself can help turn that feeling of loneliness into a feeling of purpose. Practice those ceremonies that make meaning for you. Prayer, meditation, and ritual all put you in proper connection to your higher power.

Alone need not mean lonely.

Just because you are alone this holiday season does not mean you have to be lonely. Alone is on the outside and lonely is on the inside.

What will you do this holiday season to help your recovery and thwart the loneliness, creature?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

12 Relationships that make you unhappy.

By David Joel Miller.

Some relationships problems are guaranteed to make you unhappy.

unhappy couple

Unhappy Relationship Surprises.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Humans have and need relationships whether you want them or not. Some relationships contribute to happiness and some create a great deal of misery. Romantic relationships can make us happy and they can be the greatest source of unhappiness. But lovers are not the only relationships that can be making you unhappy.

How many of these happiness sabotaging relationships are in your life?

1. You do not like yourself.

If you do not like yourself you make it hard for others to like you. We teach others how to treat us and the primary way we do that is the way we treat ourselves.

Treat yourself poorly and you set up a life full of unhealthy relationships.

2. You have partners and associates but no real friends.

There are all kinds of people who cross our paths each day. It is preferable to be on friendly terms with most all of them but having one hundred acquaintances is no comparison to having one true friend.

Casual acquaintances will disappear when times get tough; a true friend is there no matter what.

3. You are in love with money.

Money and other material possessions is a totally unreliable friend. No matter how much money you have it is unlikely to turn an unhappy person happy. Having enough money for your needs can take the stress and worry out of life but making money your best friend is likely to make you really lonely. The people who friend you when you have something they want will disappear the second you can’t or won’t give them more.

4. You think your partner should make you happy.

Happiness comes from inside. Expecting your partner to make you happy is a mistake. These days a lot of people think that their lack of happiness is their partner’s fault. The result is a lot of affairs, break-ups, and new relationships. If you leave one partner for another expecting the change to make you happy the odds are that you will very shortly be back in an unhappy relationship, this time with a new equally unhappy partner.

5. Your lover is alcohol or drugs.

Lots of people develop very unhealthy relationships with drugs, alcohol, gambling and a host of other things. If your lover is a substance or a repetitive behavior like sex or shopping you are in an unhealthy relationship and this relationship is bound to make you unhappy.

6. You spend all your time with Anxiety.

Some people think that being anxious is helpful. They spend most of their day worrying about things with a low probability of happening. If you are in a close intimate relationship with your anxieties and fears this connection will turn unhappy in a flash.

Consider professional help to get a trial separation from your anxiety and fears.

7. You are lonely when you are alone.

Being alone should not make you lonely. Work on being your own best friend and you will not be lonely just because you are by yourself.

Chronically feeling lonely when alone sets you up to jump into a relationship, any relationship, just to avoid being alone. Most of those emergency relationships turn out to also be the very unhappy kind.

8. Your friends are toxic.

If you hang out with unhappy people you become unhappy. If your friends are downers and want you to mellow down to their level you are headed for lonely street.

9. Your living in the wrong time zone.

If you spend all your time and thoughts on the past, what should have been to make you happy, you will lose the present. Frankly, the present is where you should be experiencing happiness.

Same problem if you spend all your time dwelling in the future. Do you time travel to some point in the future and tell yourself that if only you could get there then you will be happy. That time travel is leaving your present in the unhappy column.

10. The clock is your enemy – Procrastination – unpunctual – no time to yourself.

If you are constantly fighting the clock you are living an unhappy life. Make the present your friend. Start on time end on time and do not put off things that need doing. Make sure that you are not so busy chasing happiness that you fail to have time to enjoy it when you pass it by.

11. You have not made friends with the bed.

People who do not have a good sleep life do not have a happy awake life. Get lots of rest. If you have nightmares find out why and work with a professional counselor on dealing with those demons from your past.

A good healthy sex life is also a significant factor in being happy. Do not abuse your bed. Use it to sleep and to make love. Otherwise get up and get going.

12. You and your job can’t get along – you hate your job – spend the day avoiding work.

If you have a bad relationship with work it will color the rest of your life unhappy. If you hate your job – figure out why and go about changing things. The best time to look for another job is when you have one. Look for a job that you would enjoy doing and you will look forward to going to work.

Work on improving your relationship with yourself, others in your life, your work and your feelings and you will find that as these relationships become happier you will spend more time in the happiness place and less time in the misery hangout.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Are you lonely?

By David Joel Miller.

Some tools to combat loneliness.

Loneliness

Loneliness.
Photo courtesy of Flickr (Richo.Fan)

This is a time of the year when loneliness walks among us and it can swallow up the unwary. There are more people than ever on the earth, the stores are packed and yet one place loneliness lurks is in the crowd.

Loneliness is a major cause of relapse, relapse to drug and alcohol use, relapse to depression, relapse on any part of your recovery.

Feeling lonely is not about the number of people in your world. It is about the connections you have with those people. As we get older it becomes harder to make new friends. Over the holiday’s everyone is so very busy. It is easy to become isolated – then depressed.

This time of year people are prone to start evaluating their relationships. Are they what you want? Some family dinners will be full of love, others will be full of recrimination and fault-finding. More than a few will be drunken brawls.

Your romantic relations may be under strain. You might look around and see presumably happy couples and we wonder if your relationship measures up. When we are lonely we can easily believe it is our partner or our families fault.

What are some ways to defeat loneliness if you find yourself feeling alone in your relationship or lonely in the crowd?

1. Get out of your routine.

It is easy to stay home and avoid situations where others will be around. We call that isolating. It is a symptom of depression. It can also be a cause of sadness and depression. Getting out and mingling is a good way to put yourself in contact with others if only for a while.

Try to do this with a hopeful attitude. Expect to talk to others and to make connections.

2. Reach out to someone else.

One really fast way to make new friends is to reach out to others. Put your hand out and introduce yourself. Say something kind or nice to someone around you.

Start a conversation with someone about where you are or what you are doing.

3. Spend time at a fellowship.

If you are a member of a religious group make it a priority to attend their functions this holiday. When there participate in something.

If you are in recovery attend a 12 step or other support group meeting. In many places, there are “Alchathons” or marathon meetings. These meetings occur every hour round the clock and provide a safe place for people in recovery to hang out over the holidays and not be alone in their own heads.

4. Reconnect with old friends.

Call someone you haven’t talked with in a while. Send out some emails. Do not let yourself dwell on the people who do not respond or who do not have time to talk. Focus on those people who stop and talk with you.

5. Reach out to someone else who may be feeling down and lonely.

In twelve steps groups, the advice is to call one other recovering person each day. That provides support for you in times of need. You may also find that other person needed the call even more than you did.

6. Do something nice for someone else.

Reaching out to others to help them – be of service – this can make you feel connected to others and far less lonely.

How will you defeat loneliness this holiday season? Do you have any other suggestions, not on my list?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.