How To Cope With Loneliness

Updated: Nov 16

"Also if two lie down together they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?" (Ecclesiastes 4:11)

Autism is a developmental disability that causes breakdowns in communication including difficulties establishing and maintaining relationships. In fact, due to a breakdown in independent living skills and inability to establish social connection, research says only 5% of middle age adults with autism have ever been married. Although autistic individuals are often reported to love alone time, lack of social connection can cause pervasive loneliness. Let's be honest, lots of people need time to disconnect, but relationships are where we find the best rewards! How could you feel the intimate warmth of a hug if you don't talk to someone and make quality time?

The effects of loneliness are negative feelings of self doubt, extended periods of social isolation, an inability to connect with others on a deeper level, and burn out when trying to engage socially. When left unresolved, loneliness can impact physical health. If you can't get motivated to be social, don't feel bad, your self isolating behaviors may be the best antecedent to success! Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) says, when you deprive yourself of something, the future likelihood of being motivated to access that thing will increase. Deprivation creates motivation. The less time you spend with people you love, the more motivated you will be to spend time with them in the future; if that time is spent doing something rewarding. Sometimes its good to be bae-less. Sometimes its best to recharge away from friends. As much as we can encourage people to be social, we respect the desire to be alone.

Whether you're cuffin' this season or hibernating without a bae, feelings of loneliness may still occur. Here's a list of strategies for coping with loneliness and getting socially motivated:

  • Structure time alone with God as a daily activity, pop scriptures like prescription pills.

Our acronym for L.O.N.E.L.Y says, Longing Only Nothing Earthly Lasts Accept Yahweh. The best things in life are found in God. "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). Apart from him good things do not exist. This means if you want to improve your life you must develop a relationship with God and His Only Son Jesus.

  • Talk to someone, be intentional about forming friendships without bias. There are so many people who will like you, you just have to be willing to look past their differences.

Your network is your net worth. This just means your friends are your best asset; if you make them. Join a local church small group or attend monthly events at the coffee shop to meet people with the same interests as you! If you're in Atlanta click here to sign up for Swarthy Lion Volunteers and join us on community outings, could be a great opportunity to make friends!

  • Avoid completing independent tasks with support, you don’t need people this much.

If you're reading this, ask for personal space. Some tasks just have to be done alone. Like going to the bathroom or eating food, the things that come natural to us should feel rewarding without the presence of others. Create a list of tasks that you need to do alone and put them first. Then, spend some time doing the things you enjoy and invite someone to do them with you! Completing independent activities, then pairing time with rewards next to your favorite people will create a learning history of positive feelings whenever you are with those people.

  • Remind yourself that it's ok to be alone.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying your own company. Time alone spent reflecting on positive memories, engaged in creative activities, and resting can be the best thing for an individual with communication deficits. Some people may prefer to be around other people all the time, they seem to like it, and it keeps them positive. But fight the urge to compare your current state of alone to someone else's. Research says, people who report feeling lonely aren't physically alone more or less than people who have fulfilling social lives. It's all about what coping strategies you use to manage yourself when in your alone time.

  • Take a risk and do something different.

Sometimes loneliness stems from a true lack of personal fulfillment. Seeking new and more rewarding job opportunities, careers, lifestyle habits and routines can be the best way to mitigate symptoms of loneliness. Try something new!

S.T.A.R.T taking actions to relieve symptoms of loneliness today. You can still live your best life without bae! Get well.

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