(FOX 2) – Loneliness is powerful and something we all feel at certain times.
Loneliness is an emotional state, and has nothing to do with being alone or isolated. You can be in a crowd of people and still feel lonely.
What age group, what generation would you guess deals with loneliness the most? Believe it or not, it’s young adults. But why?
As these kids are going back to school, facing challenges we went searching for answers – and solutions.
Many movies show that pivotal time when high school ends and “adult life” begins. In the pop culture world, it’s all about friends, parties and frivolous fun, but in fact in reality, this time in young adulthood, is one of the loneliest.
“I’ll be in my room studying or something and I’ll check my phone. You see like, kids in a relationship with their girlfriend or they’ll be at a party, hanging out with friends. And I’m in my room like, what am I doing? I’m missing out a lot,” 19-year-old college student Abraham Alzoubi told us.
That’s the mood across the board.
New data published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships finds the number of teens or young adults feeling lonely or left out, is way up.
Why? Simple. Real human interaction is being replaced by time spent alone with a device.
“With the advent of social media and everything, people get the idea that they’re missing out on other stuff that kids are doing. So for sure, it’s not surprising there’s such a mental health crisis in teens our age,” fellow college student Hamza Hai told us.
And it can lead to a mental health crisis if loneliness goes unchecked, says Lori Edelson. She is a therapist, owner and director at Birmingham Maple Clinic.
“They’re spending more and more time alone; they’re becoming more and more negative about everything, so everything is sort of processed through a pretty negative lens. ‘This job’s not right; that school’s not right; this friend’s not right. I don’t like this anymore. I don’t like that anymore. I don’t like this music anymore.’ I think you want to look for trends and patterns,” she suggests.
“A lot of people feel like they’re stuck or stagnant in life. They’re trying to figure out what they’re going to do,” 22-year-old college student Derrick Brown told us.
So what can you do to help your mental state or feelings of loneliness?
Join clubs at school or in the community, which might lead to friendships. If finding friends is difficult, plan regular time just for yourself to do an activity you enjoy. Talking about your feelings can really help, too.
“I think everybody goes through these things, whether they openly admit it or seem as if they seem as though they’re struggling,” says 16-year-old high school student London Roquemore.
A good goal is to try to have real social interaction, away from the electronics.
“I think we just need to spread love to our friends and make sure that they know we’re always there for them,” says high schooler Kunjal Parhauli.
“It doesn’t do any harm to say ‘Hey, I appreciate you’ or ‘I love you’ or anything like that because people could really use that,” says 17-year-old Arthur Rushing.
Even though 18 to 22 year olds seem to be the loneliest in this most recent research, loneliness is prevalent across all age groups. In fact, only about half of all Americans feel like they are having meaningful social interactions.
Remember four things: sleep, family time, physical activity and meaningful work relationships can help ease loneliness.