Why Do You Feel Lonely & Anxious?

Imagine yourself in a social situation. It doesn't matter how big or little (because with anxiety even small things can seem huge) this can be something like a family meal, coffee with friends, a meeting at work, or going to see the kids in a play.

Now imagine how you'll feel. Maybe your mind is racing with negative or frightening thoughts. What if something bad were to happen right now? What if they are judging me, or talking about me? Are my kids being bullied by that one playing the lead role? Sometime our minds can run off on their own and start to spiral out of control taking the rest of you with them. Making you feel sick, uncomfortable, nervous. No matter how your anxiety makes you feel, it's going to be horrible.

Is Your Anxiety Causing Loneliness?

For many of us who have experienced anxiety, it can cause us to really want to avoid things like going out or seeing friends and family, and why wouldn't we? In that moment it makes absolute sense that we should be avoiding situations that we think are going to be stressful for us. Unfortunately that just isn't the case. Cutting ourselves off from the outside world can actually have a negative impact on us and make our anxiety worse.

When we are experiencing these anxious moments, no matter what kind of anxiety someone is suffering with, we will want to distance ourselves from people. Being around people, new or old, can be cause our anxiety levels to shoot up. This is why we stay inside, cancel plans, hide under a blanket and binge a whole season on Netflix (all things I'm guilty of). This whole method of keeping to ourselves means we are isolating ourselves. That's loneliness.

Is Your Loneliness Causing Anxiety?

Being on our own for long periods of time can be really hard to deal with. There's no one to enjoy time with, no one to talk to or laugh and joke around with. Without these things, we start to shrink and hide inside ourselves. Without human interaction we can easily and quickly become depressed, which in turn leads to our anxiety getting steadily worse over time. 

That's where we get into this vicious cycle. Because we're becoming more anxious from being alone, it makes going out and socializing even more difficult for us. So we stay inside, cancel plans, hide under a blanket and binge watch the second season of that show on Netflix. We need to go out and socialize to ease our loneliness, which is causing us to be anxious, which is causing us to be lonely. It's a vicious cycle of them both feeding off each other. 

A Few Ways To Help 

The key to breaking this nasty cycle of loneliness and anxiety is getting out of our own heads. We need to be out in the world, not locked up inside and alone. So here a few little ways to help you get started on kicking both of their butts:

  • Don't dive into the deep end. Try to start small and take baby steps. You don't need to run outside right now and join the biggest group of people you can find.
  • Give yourself an out. Give yourself permission to make plans that include ways for you be able to leave comfortably. You could give yourself a timer, go out and see friends for half an hour or so (less if you need it). Sometimes you can surprise yourself and end up staying longer than you even expected.
  • Quality always beats quantity. TV, adverts, even magazines and books can make it seem like everyone in the world has a huge group of friends. This simply isn't true and makes us self conscious of the friends we do have. People you can spend quality, caring time with are much better than having people who you sort of know and see for five minuets every few weeks.
  • Reach out. Find one friend, family member, work colleague to focus on. Try to get them know them a little better, and open up yourself a little more around them. It's better to focus on improving relations with one person before trying to add more people into your new social circle.

It's so common when we live with anxiety that we want to be alone, disconnected, safe in our own
little bubble. This isolation isn't good for us though, and in turn is actually making our anxiety worse. It's a fairly common thing to happen, so if you ever get like this, don't forget you're not alone and that you can break this cycle.

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