Loneliness vs Being Alone

By Eileen Doherty, MS ~

Denver, Colo. – As we approach the holidays, many individuals face the dilemma of being alone, as well as feeling lonely.  For many of us, the holidays are supposed to be the time to spend with family and friends or a time when we are socially connected.

First, let’s be clear.  Being “alone” is a time when you are physically by yourself.  No one is in the room or your home with you.  Sometimes, we want to be alone and are happy to be by ourselves.  It gives us time to think, to put our thoughts in order, or to accomplish a task or a series of tasks.  

But individuals who live alone, often spend many hours without talking or interacting with other individuals.  

Loneliness and disconnectedness can easily be confused with being “alone,” when we live alone, especially among older adults. Yet, living alone does not necessarily result in loneliness. 

To manage loneliness, it is important to build positive relationships which result in resiliency. Resilience is the ability to bounce back after stressful situations, such as feeling lonely. Resilience is strengthened when you give and receive support to other individuals.  Connecting with people who have a positive outlook strengthens your resilience.  People with a positive outlook make you laugh, help you face difficult situations, and give you skills to face life’s challenges.

Thus, being alone is simply that.  No one is with you in the moment.  Loneliness is an emotional state, when you experience stress and emotional distress. Resilience and kindness reduce the feelings of loneliness.

For more information about loneliness, being alone, kindness, and resilience join us for a virtual presentation on December 7 at noon. To register, visit senioranswers.org, or call 303-333-3482 or 1-855-293-6911 (toll free) or 1-866-880-4777 (Spanish).  

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty, MS is the Executive Director of the Colorado Gerontological Society.

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