Loneliness is a universal emotion that affects just about everyone some time in their life. As social beings, we have an innate need to be with others of our species, especially those who are culturally closest to us. The strength of the need depends, to some degree, on our personality. Extroverts, for example, enjoy being with others and actively seek social interaction. If an extrovert is stuck in a private office , you will usually find them roaming the corridors looking for someone to talk to and spending a lot of time at the coffee machine. For these individuals, a day cooped up in an office drains them of psychic energy and at the close of the business day, they’re out meeting people at local breweries or at the fitness center recharging their batteries. Introverts, on the other hand, don’t mind seclusion and privacy. For these individuals, a few friends are all they require, and when they are feeling in need of personal contact they will usually call a friend and meet for dinner or go shopping. Both types of personalities experience loneliness, but Introverts seem to experience it less. But there is another type of loneliness that is more pervasive, deep, and profound. It can easily overwhelm the body’s immune system and leave the individual exposed to serious illnesses. It is the loneliness that is experienced when someone we love deeply leaves us, either by choice, such as divorce, or death and permeates our very existence. It sometimes is referred to as “chronic loneliness” and it can easily result in severe depression.
What are some of the things we can do to ward off chronic loneliness? First, and most important, is to seek distraction. When we are actively doing something we tend to down play our loneliness. Taking walks and being around others, joining a fitness center, getting in touch with old friends, and volunteering are just some of the ways we can occupy our minds which will, over time, replace the feelings of loneliness. Social networks, such as chooseafamily.com., are ideal approaches to platonic relationships that, once cultivated, can blossom into meaningful experiences. The important thing to remember is that we don’t have to be lonely. We can choose our family.