Coping Strategies and Minimizing Loneliness
If you are feeling lonely, there are steps to take that can help.
Follow the easy tips and partake in protective factors against loneliness. Practice healthy coping strategies.
Take control of loneliness in your life. Utilize resources for loneliness at AU
Social Media versus Social Interaction Leading to Loneliness
Media Contact: Allison Halford, American University, email@example.com
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) November 6, 2019 —The current generation of adolescents and college students are having less face-to-face interactions than the generations before. Yet social media use and loneliness have both increased significantly. Loneliness is a perceived lack in quantity or quality social relationships, and can lead to depression and anxiety. According to the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, from 2006 to 2016 adolescents’ time spent online doubled, with 50% saying they are on the internet “almost constantly”. At the generational level “in-person interactions have dropped as they are replaced by digital media interactions.” A protective factor against loneliness is in-person interaction. Since face-to-face interactions have been decreasing in this generation it makes sense that loneliness is on the rise. If in-person interaction continues to decrease as social media use increases, loneliness will become an even larger problem for this generation.
A study, conducted by Jean Twenge and associates at San Diego State University, showed that people most likely to rate high feelings of loneliness are those with low in-person social interaction and high social media use. The study used survey data from Monitoring the Future, about eighth, tenth and twelfth graders, and the AF Project, about incoming college freshmen’s, social media use, social interaction, and feelings of support and isolation throughout time in the United States. Survey responses were grouped by generation cohort to compares various generations’ in-person social interaction and feelings of loneliness. The frequency of social media use and in-person social interaction is evaluated against feelings of loneliness. The findings showed that the people most likely to rate high feelings of loneliness are those with low in-person social interaction and high social media use. Social media interactions are not protective against loneliness like in-person social interactions. Social media use has reduced in-person interactions, causing there to be higher rates of loneliness, as one of the main protective factors is replaced by unfulfilling social interactions.
For college students to combat loneliness, increase the amount of time spent having face-to-face interactions with peers and making social connections, rather than spending all of the time online or on social media. Social media also involves the phenomenon of FOMO (fear of missing out) which has also been linked to increasing feelings of loneliness among college students. By increasing meaningful interactions, including small daily interactions, this generation can reduce their loneliness by increasing protective factors.
Read the full article “Less in-person social interaction with peers among U.S. adolescents in the 21st century and links to loneliness” to get more information.
Twenge, J. M., Spitzberg, B. H., & Campbell, W. K. (2019). Less in-person social interaction with peers among U.S. adolescents in the 21st century and links to loneliness. Journal of Social & Personal Relationships, 36(6), 1892–1913. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407519836170
There are some factors that are proven to protect against loneliness. Face-to-face social interaction is one these factors, and an easy one to incorporate in your day-to-day college life. Other protective factors include belongingness, feeling as though you are a part of something. In college, many students feel as though they do not belong. Finding a place were you feel a sense of belongingness can protect against loneliness.
Healthy vs Unhealthy Coping Strategies
When dealing with difficult emotions, like loneliness, it can be a challenge to cope. Healthy coping strategies can reduce feelings of loneliness, while unhealthy coping strategies further isolate.
Healthy coping strategies positively impact mental health and reduce loneliness.
Many healthy coping strategies are listed in the above Easy Tips to Combat Loneliness. Here are some more.
- Strengthen existing relationships
- Recognize your feeling of loneliness does not mean you are alone
- Make a schedule and stick to it, including being social
- Setting aside social media to connect in-person
- Spend time alone doing what you love
Unhealthy coping strategies can lead to stronger feelings of loneliness and depression. When you feel isolated and alone it is easy to withdraw further from socializing. The more isolated, the greater the risk of other health effects from loneliness.
Don’t fall into these unhealthy coping strategies
- Never socializing
- Only socializing via social media
- Comparing yourself to other students
- Giving up on trying to make friends
- Only staying in your room alone
- Keeping your feelings to yourself
*Baskin, T. W., Wampold, B., Quintana, S., & Enright, R. (2010). Belongingness as a protective factor against loneliness and potential depression . The Counseling Psychologist, 35(5), 626–651. doi: 10.1177/0011000009358459
*CMHA. (2019). Coping with Loneliness. Retrieved from https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/coping-with-loneliness/.
*Cohan, D. J. (2017). The lonely college student. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/social-lights/201709/the-lonely-college-studen
*Diehl, K., Jansen, C., Ishchanova, K., & Hilger-Kolb, J. (2018). Loneliness at Universities: Determinants of Emotional and Social Loneliness among Students. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(9), 1865. doi:10.3390/ijerph15091865
*NIH. (2018). Care and connection: Loneliness affects all ages. Retrieved from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/08/care-connection
*Twenge, J. M., Spitzberg, B. H., & Campbell, W. K. (2019). Less in-person social interaction with peers among U.S. adolescents in the 21st century and links to loneliness. Journal of Social & Personal Relationships, 36(6), 1892–1913. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407519836170