Published in Jul 2020 / Updated in Aug 2021
Loneliness can sneak up on anyone, whether you’re the loudest extrovert or quietest introvert.
Don’t be scared, loneliness isn’t the same as depression, but they come close together. To help you stay alert in case loneliness is coming your way, here are ten signs you are beginning to feel lonely;
1. You Spend Too Much Time On Social Media
Whether it’s comparing yourself to the picture-perfect lives you see online, recent studies have shown that people who spend multiple hours a day on social media are more likely to experience feelings of loneliness than those who spend less time online. While psychologists are yet to figure out which one causes the other, they recommend limiting social media to 30 minutes a day.
The average person spends approximately two hours a day on social media, with teens spending approximately nine hours. It is, therefore, no surprise that the number of people suffering from loneliness keeps rising.
The fact is, excessive social media use is among the symptoms of loneliness and can leave you feeling completely alone.
2. You Have Lonely Friends
Yes, loneliness can be contagious. The 2010 study, ‘Alone in the Crowd’ states that lonely individuals ‘choose one another as friends and become connected.’ They found that because of their shared experience as friends, this can lead to a general feeling of loneliness. So, having lonely friends rather than giving you feelings of companionship can instead leave you feeling completely alone.
So, if you have a friend who is always complaining of feeling alone, be careful because such feelings may pass on to you. Studies have shown that you are 52 percent more likely to feel lonely if you have lonely companions.
3. You’re Constantly Shopping
Have you been feeling the need to shop excessively lately? If yes, you might want to ask yourself, am I lonely?
A study of 2500 people over six years showed that materialism is often a symptom of loneliness. The study found that people who valued material possessions as a measure of happiness and success usually experienced an increase in loneliness. While it may temporarily lift their spirits, their obsession with materialism leaves them always wanting to ‘fill a void’ inside them.
However, according to the Journal of Consumer Research, ‘Loneliness may cause materialism, but the opposite is not necessarily true.’ So, if you’ve always been overly materialistic, you have nothing to worry about. Except putting your spending in check, of course.
4. You’re Always Taking Long, Hot Baths
Now, this is intriguing. Long, hot baths are symptoms of loneliness. A 2013 study found a link between physical and emotional warmth in daily life. Lonely people crave emotional warmth, in the form of companionship or even a simple hug. To give themselves that feeling of warmth they crave, they spend their time enjoying long, hot showers. Studies have shown that this actually helps the person feel more comforted and relaxed, as opposed to feeling alone.
5. You’re Binge Watching TV Shows
As stated before, turning to technology is one of the symptoms of loneliness. Binge-watching in particular can be a way to extract yourself from your present feelings of loneliness and focus on something else.
A study in 2015 at the University of Texas found a link between the desire to binge-watch shows and feelings of loneliness. If this sounds just like you, try to step back from Netflix and Hulu for a bit. No pressure.
6. You Feel Tired Most Of The Time
If you ever wonder, what does loneliness feel like? Being tired is certainly one of the lonely feelings people get. As recent studies have shown, loneliness is associated with sleep fragmentation. Lonely people don’t sleep as well as ‘individuals who feel more connected to others.’
Constant tiredness can be found in someone who feels alone most of the time, even around friends and family.
7. You Get Stressed Over Little Things
This is closely linked to feeling tired and is one of the symptoms of depression. Lonely people tend to be asocial and hostile. Even when exposed to small or not stressful tasks, they ‘report higher levels of perceived stress’ than non-lonely people, according to Psychology Today.
Too much stress can make people depressed. So, if you have been experiencing large amounts of stress over nothing, it may be your loneliness acting up.
8. You Frequently Catch Colds
The body is indeed mysterious, as loneliness can weaken your immune system and leave you more susceptible to colds. According to a UCLA study, the immune system in lonely people focuses more on bacteria than viruses, leaving their bodies very vulnerable.
9. You’re Starting To Feel Symptoms Of Depression
Now, If you’re wondering, what are depression symptoms? Loneliness is one of them. Loneliness often comes before depression, but most people who feel extreme loneliness often fall into depression. This is why loneliness should be taken seriously as it's one of the warning signs that depression is about to come.
10. You’re Gaining Weight
Not even a bit surprising is the fact that loneliness, as most mood disorders, can cause weight gain. Lonely people tend to turn to food as a comfort mechanism and a way to fill themselves up with the warmth they don’t have.
Loneliness finds everyone eventually, but if you’re experiencing drawn-out feelings of loneliness, you probably have chronic loneliness. Chronic loneliness can lead to depression if not properly taken care of. So, be sure to surround yourself with friends and family who understand you, and if you’re unsure, take the chronic loneliness test. It is important not to go through these feelings alone.
Even if you didn’t check off all the numbers, ask yourself: am I lonely? I mean, you read this article for a reason. My remedy? Talk to people more, call a friend. You’ll be surprised how far that can go to cure your loneliness.