If you are feeling lonely, know you are not alone.  Everyone feels lonely occasionally even in the middle of the crowd.  And loneliness can happen at any age.  Young adults are at risk when they leave school and their parents' home and move into their own home for the first time.  Retirees may feel particularly lonely when they no longer have a daily routine and lose workplace relationships.  Married people may feel lonely during rough patches in a relationship.

    Unfortunately, loneliness can spiral downward into the three D's of defensiveness, desperation and depression.  These, in turn, can push people away and cause even more loneliness.

     Defensiveness actually separates lonely people from others.  If you are feeling lonely, take the time to look at your own behavior.  Look at what could be limiting your ability to establish relationships.  Sometimes some tweaking of your social skills is all that is needed to feel less lonely.  Do you go places to meet people?  When was the last time you accepted an invitation or attended a social function?  Do you join in conversations already taking place?  Release the defensiveness and see how you can reach out to others. Taking a class or joining a volunteer group can be a great way to meet new people and do something positive for yourself and others.

    Desperation occurs when people feel that lack of social connections.  But often the best cure for loneliness is not meeting new people, it is deepening the relationships you already have.  Reach out to the people you already know.  Reconnect.  Go through your address book or emails and reconnect. Find old high school, college friends or co-workers. Then make a real effort to stay reconnected.

    Depression can happen when loneliness becomes overwhelming and the person simply gives up.  They begin to believe that it's impossible to be anything but lonely and become very pessimistic.  They step into the "why bother" mode - why bother to try to make a new friend, why bother to reach out to someone,  why bother to attend a social event.  Of course, you will likely not meet your soul mate or your future best friend at every event.  But, if you are lonely, step out of the loneliness box of your home and into the world of possibility.

    If you need help to release the defensiveness, desperation and depression that can be triggered by loneliness, a clinical hypnotherapist using brief therapy can help you to step out into a better and happier future.  Hypnotherapy can help you BE WELL.


        Researchers at the University of Buffalo have found that reading fiction eases feelings of loneliness.  If you have been feeling isolated or lonely, reading a novel for just thirty minutes can boost mood as much as being in a group for thirty minutes. The researchers found that participants in the study felt like they "belonged" within the character's world which satisfied their need to connect in real life.

       Loneliness not only affects emotional health but physical health as well.  Researchers in a Tennessee study found that of the 61 people age 60 and older that they studied, those who scored the highest on a "loneliness index" were most likely to consume too few calories and too little calcium.  When people are lonely they are more apt to have poor-quality diets and skip meals. Poor nutrition in turn can lead to poor health.

     So try reading that novel and offering to share a meal with an acquaintance.  A professional hypnotherapist can help you plan ways to alleviate your loneliness and use hypnosis to reinforce your plan.   


     A month ago my brother-in-law died after a three year illness.  Roger and his wife, Sue, had been married for over thirty years.  As with many women who married at a young age, Sue has never lived alone.  She went from her parent's home to the home she shared with her husband.  Now her children are grown and she is living alone for the first time in her life.  Sue has wonderful children.  But they have families and homes of their own with big responsibilities for work and children. She is a prime candidate for a side effect of losing a partner -loneliness. 

    Perhaps you know of someone who is also dealing with loneliness.  If you are the child of a person like Sue who has lost a partner, encourage them to find a new activity.  Perhaps you could even accompany that person to a book club meeting or a cooking class.  Encourage them to choose an activity that is truly active rather than passive. Sitting in a lecture or listening to a concert may be entertaining and rewarding but is unlikely to help with the underlying issue of loneliness. Joining a team, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to build a house or the local theater or symphony to be an usher, or hosting part of a progressive dinner with a Sunday School class could be great ways to strengthen old or develop new relationships.

    Often when the partner who has died had been ill for sometime, the surviving partner had been tied down with the responsibility of caretaking for a long period of time.  Their chance to be with others may have been limited.  So don't be shy - encourage family members and old friends to reach out to her.  That may be as simple as a phone call or visit or a request for her to join them in one of their activities.

    Remember mourning is a process and will include sadness and loneliness.  Sometimes it will help for the surviving partner to talk about this with a physician, counselor or therapist.  Hypnotherapy can also be a valuable tool in helping a person to mourn and then move forward to the next stage of life.


             If you ask most people what they want in their lives, they will give some form of the answer, "I want to be happy and healthy."  And studies have shown those two states are related - happy people lead healthier lives.  So what can we do to encourage happiness?  So many times we fixate on the negatives.  It's time to make it a goal to be happier. 

           Get information from the experts.  Lots and lots of books have been written about happiness. Some favorites are:  HAPPY 4 LIFE by Bob Nozik, MD, THE ART OF HAPPINESS by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler, GATEWAY TO HAPPINESS by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin and YOUR BEST LIFE NOW by Joel Osteen. Get the wisdom of people who have spent a great deal of time thinking about how to achieve happiness.

           Once you have done some research, make your commitment to lifelong happiness.  Begin by living in the moment.  There are things in our pasts that we simply can't change. Don't spend your life on "shoulda, woulda, couldas" from the past. If you spend time dwelling on old problems and mistakes that you can't change, you will be unhappy. Think of the past only as a learning tool to stop new mistakes.  If you constantly dwell on the future, worrying about what might happen, you may be focusing on all the things that could go wrong.  These worries also create unhappiness. Use the future as a goal for planning purposes not for worring.  Instead stay in the moment and enjoy all the good things that are happening right now.

          One great way to focus on the moment and the happiness it presents is by having a Gratitude Journal. For years I have kept a simple journal.  Each morning I take a moment to write three or four things I'm grateful for that day.  This builds awareness of all the wonderful things in our lives that so often we ignore or take for granted.  Because I am spiritual I write my journal in prayer form, with the gratitude items taking up most of the page and a prayer request or two at the end of the page.  One of my greatest joys is seeing the requests on one page become the prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude sometime in the future.  Even iff you are not spiritual, a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to build awareness of all the good things in your life.

          Finally, share your life with those around you.  Stay open to new friendships.  Be interested in the people you meet whether they are at a party or standing in line at the grocery store.  Be open to meeting new people - that person may become one of your dearest friends.  Reach out to others - speak to your neighbors, welcome the latest person moving into your neighborhood.  What you radiate out will be reflected back.  Let your friendliness bring friendliness and happiness into your life.

         If happiness simply seems to be beyond you, discuss your feelings with your medical doctor.  You may be suffering from depression.  A therapist or counselor may help you to examine your feelings and how to choose happiness.  Hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool in encouraging happiness.  Make the decision to be happy and then go out and actualize happiness in your life.


      A recent study at the University of Chicago by assistant professor of epidemiology, department of health studies, Lianne Kurina, PhD, found that loneliness can hamper sleep.  This study compared 95 adults on a perceived loneliness scale.  Those who scored highest were found to also score more likely to experience restless or disrupted sleep than those who did not score themselves as lonely.  In the past, loneliness has been associated with several physical ailments including:  heart disease, high blood presure, cognitive decline and depression.  This new study may indicate that the link between loneliness and these physical problems is the poor and disrupted sleep the person experiences. 

     If you are experiencing restless or disrupted sleep examine your own experience to see if you are lonely.  If you feel that loneliness may be contributing to your poor sleep, it's time to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to other people.  Volunteering is a great way to get to know other people.  Make sure to choose a volunteer activity that will allow you to get to know others - working at the hospital gift shop or a food pantry will allow you to get to know more people than cleaning litter boxes in an animal shelter or picking up litter on a woodland trail.  All of those are fine volunteer opportunities.  But if you are lonely, choose an activity that places you with a chance to be with other people.  Taking a class at a community college or local gym can be great ways to meet others with mutual interests.  Or join a group that serves an interest you already have - a book club, a religious group, a hobby group.  As loneliness abates, your sleep may improve.

     Read other articles from this blog if you are still experiencing  poor sleep.  Remember hypotherapy can be a valuable tool for insomnia and poor sleep.