Just Say "Thanks"
Feeling lonely or isolated is often a problem of perception. It’s easy to feel lonely if you don’t think people have been there to support you. When you feel like no one cares, it can magnify feelings of isolation.
Feeling lonely can increase your risk for cognitive decline. It can even decrease your brain’s executive function.
Yet, the truth is, it’s more likely than not that you are loved, cared for, and important to someone.
When you’re starting to feel like you don’t matter, try writing a few thank you notes. “But no one has given me a gift recently,” you might be saying. Don’t worry, you’re not going to write thank you notes for tangible objects. Instead, you’re going to write notes to the people who have helped you through something during your life. Maybe someone helped you get your first job. Perhaps an old friend supported you through a divorce. These people might no longer be in your life, and that’s ok. You can send the person the note, but you don’t have to.
The purpose of this exercise isn’t about giving someone a note, but about you writing it. Remembering that person and the moment you felt supported can help squash that lonely feeling. Knowing someone was there to help you when you needed it will remind you that you are loved and important.
- Cacioppo, J. T., & Hawkley, L. C. (2009). Perceived social isolation and cognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(10), 447–454. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2009.06.005
- Frinking, E., Jans-Beken, L., Janssens, M., Peeters, S., Lataster, J., Jacobs, N., & Reijnders, J. (2019). Gratitude and loneliness in adults over 40 years: examining the role of psychological flexibility and engaged living. Aging & Mental Health, 1–8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2019.1673309