Addressing the Loneliness Epidemic
You are in a crowded room filled with your friends, family, and acquaintances. You know everyone in the room, but you don’t believe that anyone present actually knows you. You look around confused as you are surrounded by so many people but still feel… lonely.
It is a common misconception that a person has to be “alone” to feel lonely. Loneliness is defined as feeling empty, isolated, excluded or left out. Feeling ‘lonely’ does not mean you’re alone, but that you don’t feel a connection to others.
Today’s generation is more connected to each other than ever through social media, smart phones, and the internet. However, a recent Cigna study of 20,000 U.S. adults found that nearly half of Americans are suffering from loneliness because they don’t have meaningful relationships, they rarely feel close to people, and they have no one to talk to. Though we can FaceTime someone from across the world, it means nothing if 1 in every 2 adults still feel disconnected and isolated. This is the Loneliness Epidemic.
The compounding feeling of loneliness across the world is now thought to be an epidemic because of the side effects of the emotion. Scientists have known that loneliness is emotionally painful and can lead to psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. But recent discoveries have shown that social isolation can also lead to serious physical conditions like heart disease, stroke, metastatic cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
In the beginning, when God created the world He looked at all He made and called it “good”. However, after making man God found something ‘not good’. He looked at Adam and stated: “It is not good for man to be alone…” (Gen. 2:18) thus highlighting the importance of interpersonal relationships. God does not intend for you to be lonely, He created you to have a personal relationship with Him and other human beings.
So, how do we combat feelings of loneliness? Well, you must first address your ‘inner critic’ that repeats thoughts of not being worthy, accepted, or good enough for valuable relationships. You have to fight the natural inclination of avoiding people when you feel lonely and prioritize connection. This can be something as simple as taking a walk and waving to neighbors, or asking a co-worker about their weekend.
Despite all this, as the foundation, God’s Word reminds us that despite our loneliness telling us that we are alone, as His beloved creation, we are never alone because He is always with us (Isaiah 43:1-2).
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10 – ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.’
Proverbs 18:24 – ‘One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’