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Although many people complain of loneliness at certain times of the year, others find that loneliness may be due to a change in environment, social situations, or other causes. Loneliness has often been attributed to older adults, but a growing number of young adults report being lonely.
The first step in finding solutions for loneliness is to recognize the symptoms of loneliness. Different types of loneliness call for different solutions. There are some categories of books which can help when you are feeling most alone.
Some types of loneliness come from within, and others are the result of the environment. You can feel lonely even in the midst of a crowd. Read further to learn how to identify loneliness in these various categories, and how books can help you overcome the devastating effects that result from loneliness.
Do books help with loneliness?
Of course, most people recognize that reading groups can bring about social connections that the individual would otherwise not enjoy. Some studies recently have shown that reading books solely for your own enjoyment can also be beneficial in overcoming loneliness. For those whose eyesight is failing, a book club or audiobooks can be helpful as an alternative. Online communities also provide a way to socialize about books and reading with like-minded individuals from the comfort of one’s home.
Reading as a solitary activity
Reading as a solitary activity can be incredibly relaxing. As a combat mechanism to fight off loneliness, reading is especially helpful. Reading a book that you enjoy takes you out of your current environment and helps you escape from day-to-day life. Reading a good book will allow you to forget your loneliness and your problems, and become absorbed by a completely different world.
Books of all types have a unique power to allow us to form connections with stories and individuals that we might never have encountered otherwise. Reading enhances empathy. It also increases the ability to understand your own identity and the identity of others.
Choose uplifting stories rather than those which dwell on the dark side of life. If you need suggestions, join an online book club or subscription service. Some websites provide free digital reading material that comes in a variety of categories. You can pick up your phone or other mobile device and quickly be immersed in a romance, adventure, or fantasy environment.
Reading as a group activity
In many respects, reading as a group activity can be a reliable method of combating loneliness. A book club, volunteering to work with children or adults, or (as a more specialized group activity) leading out in a class setting at a church or other venue are all types of reading which double as group activities.
The act of reading often takes second place to the socialization that occurs when you are connected with others who are also reading and meeting in various social situations. Getting out of your usual surroundings to speak with others changes your perspective. You spend time preparing for the meeting as well as participating socially in the meeting.
You can be part of a social group that meets face to face, or you can use one of the many digital platforms such as Zoom, the current face-to-face video platform leader. Other similar platforms for video conferencing include Skype, GoToMeeting, and Google Hangouts.
If you can’t find a nearby book club, you may want to start your own. You can pick a theme or category to discuss. The options are almost unlimited. Some easy examples are best sellers, romance, mystery, or poetry. You can even venture into non-fiction books such as gardening, bird watching, or travel.
Can reading books help with loneliness?
There are some direct links between loneliness and lack of reading, as well as some less direct connections. Some types of loneliness respond to books, while others are more serious and may require additional treatment from professionals. There are various ways of classifying loneliness and what kinds of books can be helpful in making a lonely person feel less alone. Under one method of classification, there are four types of loneliness: social, emotional, situational, and chronic.
Scientists who are scrutinizing the health aspects of loneliness have determined that loneliness is linked to health and wellness. Studies have shown that loneliness is as dangerous to health as smoking fifteen cigarettes daily. Loneliness may be more hazardous than obesity.
What is social loneliness?
Social loneliness is typical of individuals who have difficulty in social situations. The underlying reason for the difficulty can be low self-esteem, social awkwardness, or shyness. They doubt their ability to be entertaining and competent in social circumstances. Learning how to overcome this type of loneliness can involve various tactics.
Different approaches can be helpful. For example if the problem is low self-esteem, tackling this first would be a positive strategy. Try a structured approach to socializing, such as joining an online or virtual group that meets to discuss or engage in a particular hobby. This can be a good way to form social connections that help to minimize feelings of loneliness.
What is emotional loneliness?
Emotional loneliness will affect the individual in ways that can be difficult to improve without an effort to tackle the root of the problem.Emotional loneliness is not tied to circumstances, but rather comes from within. Therapy is the recommended way to tackle the underlying cause of feelings of emotional loneliness. Working with a therapist, using techniques such as behavioral cognitive therapy, can lead to the best possible outcome. Attending group therapy is another way to approach this type of loneliness.
Delving into at-home therapeutic techniques through self-help books is one way to use reading to help with this type of loneliness. As the individual reads or participates in therapeutic measures, they begin to understand why they are lonely. They learn how experiences and background can contribute to behavior that makes things worse. They learn how to develop a new and more useful set of behaviors.
During the restrictions caused by coronavirus, face-to-face meetings with professionals were limited at times. Increasingly, therapy through video conferencing or pre-recorded material has become available, and these types may often implement certain books or readings as part of the therapy process.
What is situational loneliness?
It is not uncommon for millennials to choose to work or travel abroad for a few years. This experience can mean solo adventures in a different country. However, the situation can lead to loneliness due to the distance between an individual and their familiar home environments and social groups. There is excitement in the planning and preparation for such travel, but once a single person is in a different culture, perhaps with a different language and way of life, it can be challenging to meet people with whom to socialize.
Stay-at-home single parents can find it difficult to maintain adult friendships. Those who have some physical disabilities may also find it a challenge to navigate environments that require extra planning and preparation, in order to socialize. In this type of situation, it can help to have a circle of friends who enjoy the use of social media platforms. Again, making new friends through shared interests in books can be a way to avoid loneliness.
What is chronic loneliness?
Chronic loneliness is the term used to describe individuals who have been lonely for so long that it has become a way of life for them. When solitude has become part of their nature, it can be challenging to break the cycle. Chronic loneliness is something that can be related to situational loneliness, but it can go on for such a long time that it becomes a lifestyle. As with other types of loneliness, reading alone or as part of a group is one way to feel less lonely.
What are some kinds of books to choose?
Choosing books which will help to dispel loneliness can be as easy as finding a book, genre, or author that provides a positive message. Look for stories where the characters in the book are living lives that display striving toward and meeting goals and solving problems, or stories which show interpersonal relationships that are believable and honest.
Another approach in your reading choices are books about environments that are totally different from your own. You can easily get lost in a novel or a biography about heroic figures. You may also find enjoyment in reading about regular people who are facing and overcoming some of the same problems you have experienced.
Loneliness is a problem among the elderly, and is also a growing problem among people aged 16-24. Depending on the causes and types of feelings of loneliness, it requires action on the part of the individual. Reading books in a solitary environment allows the opportunity to get lost in a different world created by the author of the book and the characters that live in the pages. Putting yourself deliberately in a social situation which depends on books, such as a reading circle, can provide a way to share the environment of the book with a group of people in a social situation.