As people practice social distancing across the globe and are encouraged to spend more time self-isolated, this question has been on our minds: when does isolation increase loneliness and why? A recent study suggests that different generations are equally lonely, although for different reasons. The study found that social isolation was not significantly associated with loneliness, but living alone was strongly associated with loneliness in young adults. The inverse is also true: spending more time with others doesn’t necessarily increase feelings of connection directly. The mediating factor is building quality relationships with oneself and others.
Protective Factors Against Loneliness in Young Adults
A combination of personality traits were better predictors of lower levels of loneliness reported rather than external factors. Despite this, we would also hypothesize that certain lifestyle habits can help build these personality traits, like spending time outside (whether alone or with a group) or reaching out to others for support.
On average, people with a strong capacity to maintain emotional balance under stressful circumstances were 60 percent less likely to be lonely, regardless of their age. People who were more extroverted were, on average, 55 percent less likely to be lonely.
Factors Contributing to Loneliness
- Problems in relationships, including a lack of feeling of belonging in a group or support from others
- Poor communication skills can lead to lower levels of intimacy in relationships and can leave emotional needs unaddressed if the individual doesn’t know how to express them to others
- History of social rejection can affect feelings of security in relationships, with both acquaintances and close friends, based on fear of the past repeating itself
- Low self-esteem affects trust in others and one’s ability to feel safe and vulnerable around others
How Can Young Adults Strive for More Connection to Combat Loneliness?
As demonstrated above, connection isn’t necessarily the answer. Unless root causes of loneliness are addressed, young adults will continue to feel disconnected from others to an extent, although they may not always be able to put their finger on why.
“Social support is not the same as merely being in the presence of others,” explains Dr Bessel van der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score. “The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. For our physiology to calm down, heal, and grow, we need a visceral feeling of safety.”
At blueFire PulsaR, we believe that being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health. Safe connections, built through adventure therapy and group therapy, are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.
blueFire PulsaR Can Help
blueFire PulsaR is a coeducational wilderness therapy program for young adults ages 18-28. This program addresses emotional, social, and behavioral problems in struggling young adults. Adventure therapy, wilderness ventures, equine therapy, academic opportunities and “family spark” are used to help students open up and look at their life. From there they are able to experience growth and adopt healthy self-management skills. This program is dedicated to helping students regain a better sense of the world around them while addressing their emotions and needs head on. We can help your family today.
Contact us at 208-269-7407.