Why Loneliness Matters
Loneliness can have damaging effects to both physical and emotional health, and is a real potential issue for female entrepreneurs. Many of us work alone, in our homes, day-in and day-out.
Entrepreneurship Is a Unique Journey
Add to that that entrepreneurship is a unique journey that seemingly only other fellow entrepreneurs can understand and you’ve got a recipe for loneliness. In my own life, the only people who seem to “get” building an email list, social media marketing, funnel-building, and closing sales are my trep friends. While my family and even husband are well-meaning, they just don’t roll in the same world as us entrepreneurs. As much as they want to get it, they can’t.
And really there are only so many times you can ask your partner which font looks best on your sales page without their eyes glazing over. And we all know the look your parents give you after you’ve answered, “now hunny, what do you do again?” They’re studying your face to try to make sense of the puzzle you’ve given them. Later they’ll talk about, “oh I don’t know, it’s something with computers… but she’s happy!”
“Being cut off from the outside world unsurprisingly makes individuals more prone to depression, and can be used as a predictor of suicide in older age. The lack of mental stimulation also means that lonely people are 64 percent more likely to develop dementia, and are in general at greater risk of cognitive decline.”1
The Jo Cox Study on Loneliness, commissioned in the UK and backed by Theresa May, warns that loneliness increases the chance of mortality by 26 percent, can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and increases the risk of high blood pressure and obesity.
My favorite meditation app, HeadSpace, also points out that when you’re lonely, your body misses out on the dopamine that’s created from being physically close to other people.
Remember that from a zoological perspective, humans are social creatures, and it goes against our biology to be alone. We’re meant to share, talk, laugh, and love with our tribes.
An Extra Layer
Add the highs and lows of entrepreneurship into the current data on loneliness and we’ve got a recipe for disaster. The trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship itself are difficult and can lead to fear, anxiety, and depression. The characteristics of entrepreneurship are especially potentially damaging when combined with loneliness.
What Loneliness Feels and Looks Like
Loneliness might feel like wishing you had someone to talk to. Or someone to understand what you’re going through. It might feel like being alone with all your thoughts and feelings. You might feel disconnected from other people or the world around you. You might feel numb, sad, angry, or any combination of those.
Loneliness might look like wearing the same pajamas two days in a row, because you probably won’t see anyone anyway. It might look like crying yourself to sleep at night or a feeling of dread in the morning.
What To Do About It
First, be gentle on yourself. You might want to start blaming yourself for getting into a lonely position to start with, but that’s not useful to anyone, and it’s not kind to yourself.
Second, acknowledge your loneliness! Find someone to talk to about it (and literally you can use the contact us on our website and write to ME about it). Research shows that talking about something creates a physical sense of relief in the body, and I know it will do wonders for your mind.
If you need help, ask for it. Consider trying my favorite meditation app, HeadSpace, where they have training around reframing loneliness.
To be really proactive, try the 5 Tips to Feel More Connected As an Online Entrepreneur from the workbook below:
- Get out and about
- Try coworking
- Phone a Friend
- Have virtual coffee dates
- Try a mastermind
We go into more detail about each of these in the free workbook available for download, below – including practical, actionable ways you can combat loneliness in this journey. Remember that you’re not alone, you’re not to blame, and there are plenty of us who would love to connect with you!