If you are a millennial feeling the weight of loneliness, you are not alone. Data from a 2019 poll by YouGov, a polling firm and market research company, say that millennials have the highest percentage of loneliness of all the generations surveyed. Nearly 30 percent say they feel lonely. Relocating for work or having your friends leave town to pursue careers can cause anxiety around making new friendships. So, how do you reduce the anxiety and make new friends at this time in your life? As therapists in Evanston and Chicago, we often work with young adults navigating the new waters of “adulting.”
The healthcare service company, Cigna, surveyed more than 20,000 adults. Millennials “rated themselves highest on feelings associated with loneliness. Over 50% of all of the adults surveyed said that they always or sometimes feel left out.
Loneliness is such a worldwide epidemic. In both Japan and Britain, government leaders have recently named “ministers of loneliness” to monitor the mental health status of its citizens. Other findings in the YouGov poll include:
**22 percent of millennials said they had zero friends
**27 percent said they had “no close friends,”
**30 percent said they have “no best friends,”
**25 percent said they have no acquaintances
You are not alone; counseling can help
MindSharePartners, a mental health advocacy group, states that “half of millennials, those between 24 and 39, said they’d left a job at least partly for mental health reasons (depression or anxiety). For Gen Z-those between 18 and 23-the percentage spikes to 75, compared with just 20 percent among the general population.”
In your own life you look around and your friends are moving, getting married and climbing the ladder in their careers. But any time you think about making a change, you feel stuck and helpless. It’s as if you are going absolutely nowhere.
Through counseling you can discover how to get creative, think outside the box and do what is best for you. Together, we will explore your past and present relationships, examine how your thoughts and feelings impact what you do or say, and give you the tools you need to reduce your anxiety and loneliness.
Counseling Hack 1: Changing your perception can help you feel less anxiety and loneliness
We often blame social media for making us long for the “perfect” lives that others seem to live. Yet, professor Dawn Fallik from the University of Delaware raises another issue fostered by social media. She says that the accessibility of people and social interactions make it difficult for millennials to live in moments of silence. “They’ve been surrounded by conversation their whole lives, so when that silence happens, they have a hard time just being in it, and they take it that there’s something wrong,” Fallik said.
You may find yourself in a new city, constructing a new life and friend group. The quiet of the interim period may seem especially disturbing to you and heighten the sense of anxiety and loneliness. In the same USA Today article, Fallik adds, “Younger people are genuinely surprised to ever feel lonely and are really overwhelmed by it.”
How therapy can help change your thinking and behavior patterns
We would be happy to walk with you during this interim period, to help you manage your loneliness and anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy will help you to reframe your thoughts and behavioral patterns and lighten your mood. We will also focus on strategies for building new friendships.
Counseling Hack 2: Practical tips for Making Friends 101
Our physical health receives a hit from the toll of loneliness. Brian Resnik, in this vox.com article, lays out the disturbing truth.
“Loneliness is associated with higher blood pressure and heart disease — it literally breaks our hearts. A 2015 meta-review of 70 studies showed that loneliness increases the risk of dying by 26 percent. (Compare that to depression and anxiety, which is associated with a comparable 21 percent increase in mortality.)”
Some loneliness and anxiety has its place in our lives as it reminds us that we are social creatures. However, chronic loneliness is detrimental to our mental and physical health. Consequently, doing something about our loneliness needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Fun, practical advice.
In the article “5 Easy Ways to Make Friends as a Millennial,” they ask a pressing question, “Can we forge true, supportive friendships in the digital age?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Here is their list of tips:
Even if it feels cringey, slide into a person’s DMs. – If you loved the reel someone posted wearing their finest, fab outfits, let them know. You might have found a fellow friend in this fashionista.
Coworking space – If you are a remote worker or find yourself working from home, check out a local coworking space. You can strike up a conversation while grabbing a second cup of coffee and perhaps find someone who wants to try that new restaurant around the corner.
Follow your passions – Do you love to spend your Saturday mornings cycling? Join a local group of other bike enthusiasts and join them on the group’s Saturday morning rides.
Start a blog. Okay. This one was a little bit of a stretch for us, but it might work. Just as in an in-person encounter, you are putting yourself out there online. People will learn about you, your interests, your quirks. You might start a conversation in the comments, and the rest will be history.
Travel – Now that we have a little bit more freedom of movement, people are getting out and exploring the world (or their city) again. If the other person is traveling solo, they might also be searching for someone to see the sights. Or they will have you join their band of travelers.
Counseling Hack 3: Take your time
Check out the video below for another set of hacks for creating friendships.
You will want to remember that making lasting friendships takes time, a lot of time. Be patient with the process and yourself. Have fun as you go!
We provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Relationship Therapy, and Hypnotherapy, for women in Evanston and Chicago IL, virtually and in person. We help women who feel anxiety, isolation, and overwhelm in their lives to find more happiness, satisfaction, and self-acceptance. We journey with you to help you manage your anxiety and depression, so you can find relief from loneliness and feel more connected to others.
There is hope.