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There's a strong difference between being lonely and being alone.
When we experience long days at work, go to one big social event after another, or go to school, our bodies will want to enter hermit mode.
And that's normal.
Just like batteries, we need time to recharge, and what better way than to unwind alone with a cozy blanket and your favorite show?
But, whether you've been home alone or spending time with people, have you been feeling disconnected?
Here are seven signs you may be lonely.
One: Your insomnia is an ongoing problem.
Research shows that the lonely you are, the more disturbances you experience in your sleep.
Dr. Leana Karena states that lonely people do not experience less hours of sleep, but rather wake up more frequently throughout the night.
To alleviate some of the blues before hitting the sheets, reach out to people by either talking to them on the phone or FaceTiming.
Texting doesn't work so well because psychologists have discovered hearing someone's voice or seeing their face are factors that strongly play in how we form connections.
Two: Your anxiety worsens.
Do you already struggle with an anxiety disorder?
When you're lonely, it may increase your cortisol levels.
The reason being, when you spend too much time ruminating over matters instead of talking them out, it'll often cause you to feel helpless, thus your brain will believe you're in danger when you're really not.
Instead of criticizing or being hard on yourself, try practicing positive self-talk and healthy mantras like "you can do it" or "this too shall pass."
Three: You live on your couch or bed.
Loneliness can encourage us to stay locked in our homes, specifically one spot like the couch or bed.
You may find you have no problem wearing your PJs all day or binge watching TV.
Doing this every once in a while is understandable, but if you do this on a daily basis, then something may be wrong, especially if you feel emptier than fulfilled.
Crack open a window, let some fresh air in and go out for a walk.
Being in nature can help us feel connected and stay in the present.
Foure: You have difficulty with social situations.
Research shows that people who are lonely experience a harder time understanding and adapting social skills.
Maybe you realize you have to put yourself out there more in order to make friends and establish a bigger network.
But, you might sweat at the thought of it and make up excuses for yourself, like believing you're unapproachable or like you're not eloquent enough to stir up interesting conversations.
Don't listen to those negative thoughts, instead, remind yourself that you're only human and give yourself pep talks to boost your confidence.
Five: You choose materials over people.
Do you spend more time buying things rather than making plans with people?
Having nice things can seem great the first few minutes when you get that adrenaline rush knowing you got them while they were on sale.
But this excitement is not sustainable in the long run.
In the end, our experiences hold more meaning than what we own.
Substitute your shopping sprees with family nights or vacation with your romantic partner.
Six: You're gaining weight.
Maybe it's not just the cake or all the pizza that's been making your digits go up, loneliness can often cause us to overeat when we feel like we can eat our problems away.
Our negative headspace makes us most vulnerable when we opted for sugary sweets and carbs that we deem as comfort food.
Consequently, our bodies will start to suffer from high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
The next time you experience loneliness, try not to eat alone.
Instead, prepare meals with friends and family.
Seven: Alone time doesn't feel fun anymore.
There's nothing wrong with being a natural homebody, but if you find yourself growing irritable instead of relaxed doing solitary hobbies, it might be time to evaluate what's going on.
If you absolutely feel like you have no one to turn to, talk to your doctor, counselor or HR manager.
Never assume you have to bottle things up.
You are loved and deserve a network of people who care about you.
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