Connectedness instead of loneliness: How loneliness weakens us - and how we can counter it

We meet many

with little contact

driven by goals -

the facades are smooth.

And the heart inside

keeps itself small from whispering

longs in between

so immensely


beautiful appearance & loneliness

for perceptible closeness

to other hearts

and hopes it sees

their pain too

longs to feel

the others whole

not just the shell

of false glamour

But the uncensored facets 

Out of the separating-masked hiding place

The heart wants connection, wants to live and laugh

So let it

to open it up.❤️

Tamara Drexler


While some people like to use the "cosy time" of the year in the cooler months to reflect on the past year and make new ambitious plans for the coming year, a growing number of people experience feelings of loneliness and lack of connection during this time. However, a large number of German and international studies and reports¹ prove that these stresses represent an overarching and increasing trend that is not limited to a single season.

Loneliness is not synonymous with being alone, as is often misleadingly assumed. One can be alone and yet not lonely, just as one can be lonely although one is not alone. Loneliness represents the subjective feeling of a lack of emotional and/or physical connection with the environment and fellow human beings, which can arise both from the inability to feel comfortable with oneself alone, or also in the given contact with fellow human beings, but without the subjectively experienced actual connection.

"In the world of the lonely, there is nothing that feels familiar. One is a stranger in the world," as psychologist and emotional philosopher Michael Lehofer describes it. 

Feelings of loneliness no longer only affect individuals in older social groups, for example while they spend their days alone, sometimes in large houses, due to the loss of their partner. More and more young people are also confronted with these feelings. And this despite the increasing number of social media and digital networking opportunities.  

Did we simply have more time for connectedness in the past? Or was connectedness more connected because we were not constantly surrounded by a tideless sea of alternative options? 

I don't want to lapse into "everything was better in the old days" nostalgia, but simply observe that (social) life in those days had something that we obviously lack today in one place or another. 

And this topic has not only been topical since the beginning of the Corona pandemic: the UK has already had a Minister for Loneliness since the beginning of 2018. And in May 2019, our Federal Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach, also called for a government commissioner to deal with the problem of persistent loneliness in society on medical grounds.

However, it is quite legitimate to say that the pandemic has further exacerbated the existing imbalance. In any case, it is clear that these stresses cannot be minimised and represent a growing challenge for the mental, but also physical health of many of those affected.

For example, a study by the EU Commission's Scientific Service² concludes that the frequency of feelings of loneliness among EU citizens doubled during the Corona crisis. And the current results of the Nako Health Study³ show that depressive symptoms, as well as anxiety and stress symptoms, have increased among the German population in this wake.

The basic need for social belonging, as well as the fear of missing out on this sociality, are deeply rooted in us, stemming from our history of descent from a time when we lived in tribes, clans and clans and this social inclusion was not only common but also necessary for life. 

In contrast to this, in our present existence we are confronted with a striving for individuality and self-realisation, the need to get to know ourselves in our uniqueness, to develop the dormant potentials within us and to contrast ourselves to other individuals. 

This aspiration is particularly pronounced in our "Western society", where we also have access to the necessary resources and opportunities to a greater extent. Fortunately? 

Partly yes, partly this potential, like almost everything in life, comes with a price. 

This threatening or existing skew towards "lonesome rider" existence brings with it the price that we may feel more anxious, doubt ourselves, drift into repetitive thought spirals, that our range of perception and thinking is narrowed in an unhealthy way. Physiologically, we are still the tribal beings of old who often feel overwhelmed and lonely in this increasingly dynamic culture of contrast and individualisation.

If our need to be with other people and to feel connected is increasingly not met, this creates psychological and physical stress. We all know that prolonged stress has a negative effect on us, including our immune function, our autonomic nervous system, pain perception, cognition and emotions. 

Many scientists even postulate that this psychosocial stress is "as harmful as smoking"⁴ for our health.

Do you also know feelings of loneliness? 

Often, repressive behaviours can mask these feelings, such as excessive scrolling through social media, disproportionate buying of new things, emotional eating or similar attempts to (pseudo-) compensate for this perceived lack. However, this symptomatically oriented strategy is often not sustainable because it is not causally confrontational, and is still often associated with negative "side effects".

But now we turn our gaze away from lack and problem analyses towards resources and solutions. 

Like every solution march, this one also takes place with the first important step: acceptance. Accept feelings of loneliness as important signals for necessary course corrections. You are certainly not alone with these feelings. And if you are not alone, there are ways out of loneliness. 

In addition, awareness of the enormous value and health benefits of sociality and connectedness helps us along the way.

From the expanded pool of solution ideas and resources for the problems and challenges of the individual, to the emotional support and buffering of the stress symptoms already mentioned through the release of our "cuddle hormone" oxytocin, which we release especially in human contact. What many people do not realise is that in order to benefit from the health benefits of this hormone, as well as the beneficial inputs from other people, physical contact is not even absolutely necessary.

Digital contact, as long as it is emotionally tangible and authentic, also builds bridges to these resources and allows us to access them even more flexibly, i.e. independent of time and place, than would often be possible in physical presence. 

REDEZEIT FÜR DICH addresses precisely this potential and creates a low-threshold offer as a digital platform through which you can network with precisely those people who may have a few (new) ideas for solutions to your challenges, but first and foremost: an open ear and an open heart, simply someone who listens empathetically and reaches out to you in your position of feelings of loneliness and powerlessness. Especially if it is too far outside your comfort zone and/or even beyond your realisable possibilities to talk about these feelings with friends or family.

Besides the encounters on speaking time, what else can we do to move back towards the centre in the skew on the polar axis of "individuality vs. sociality"? Here are a few more ideas: 

  1. You can network digitally or analogue with people who might be in a similar situation, for example, by taking part in walks, sports activities or cooking evenings together. For example, you can use the digital platform "Meetup" to join local groups or events that sound interesting to you and where you can meet like-minded people. 

  2. Reading blog articles by people who share their experiences with feelings of loneliness can also help you to better classify your own feelings and get new, health-promoting inspiration.

  3. Practice gradually and at your own pace making friends with the space outside your comfort zone. Especially if your comfort zone no longer feels comfortable and it has become quite lonely. In this context, this can look like consciously making contact with people you already know, family and friends and sharing your loneliness with them. Because it is allowed, but it should not and does not have to be only with you. After all, isn't it a shame to give loneliness too much space, even though you have great people in your circle who are certainly happy to accommodate your steps out of the comfort zone? On the other hand, you too can be that person who reaches out to those who seem lonely to you and offers them your hand. Even a small, sincere compliment can build valuable bridges. Or get involved in social/charitable work - whether local, international, analogue or digital. Because often it helps us enormously to give others what we want for ourselves. Gandhi would certainly agree here. 

  4. Feeling lonely is less likely in prosocial environments such as cafes, parks and busy areas of your home or in refreshing new environments. In addition to direct contact, the sounds and energies of other people can help you feel less lonely, so go there consciously.

  5. Do you believe? Religiosity, spirituality and meditation can also carry very individual and flexible resources to counter feelings of loneliness.

  6. Put your living situation to the test: Do you live alone? Perhaps it would be worth considering moving in with friends, acquaintances, family members or digitally requested fellow human beings or familiarising yourself with co-living offers. Also, how does it sound to think that it is not necessarily the living constellation itself, but perhaps the whole place of residence that is not opportune for you in your current phase of life? Often the place we were born into is not necessarily congruent with the place where many fellow human beings cavort who share values and interests with us and "style" their "lives" in a similar way. Being surrounded by such similarly vibrating people can give you an enormous amount of tailwind in the direction of connection and belonging. 

  7. Try to use the potentials that solitude holds (or rather: exclude solitude from being alone). For example, you can use this "exclusive me-time" for creative projects, self-reflection and reading or physical pampering programmes. Maybe there are some things you've wanted to do for a long time, but never found the time for, and write them down as a list on a piece of paper?  

In summary, I would like to draw the vision that we enable ourselves, both on an individual, self-responsible level and on the level of society as a whole, to shape our lives in a way that unites individuality and sociality and strives for a balance between these poles instead of living them out as mutually exclusive.

Both forces need our consciousness and practical actions derived from it if we want to lead a life that is not one-sided but multi-faceted and above all connected: With ourselves, and also with our fellow human beings.


1. IW-Report 22/2019 (2019), Einsamkeit in Deutschland;

Einsamkeit - Gutachten für den Sozialverband Deutschland (2020); 

Goebel Jan u.a. (2020), Psychische Krise durch Covid-19?;

Huxhold, O. und Engstler, E., Soziale Isolation und Einsamkeit bei Frauen und Männern im Verlauf der zweiten Lebenshälfte, in: Vogel, C., Wettstein, M. und Tesch-Römer, C. (Hrsg.) (2020)



4. z.B. Unizeitung wissen|leben Nr. 8, Jana Haack (2020)

Tamara Drexler

About the author

Tamara Drexler (29), a native of Passau and currently living in Berlin, is a prospective alternative practitioner for psychotherapy with a background in business administration.

After her studies (Business Administration and Economics) at the University of Passau with a semester abroad in San Diego, she first worked as a marketing manager in a medium-sized company in the region.

At the same time, there was always an inner whisper to give more attention to her enthusiasm for psychology professionally as well. This curiosity to better understand herself and her fellow human beings and to make connections led her to train as a non-medical practitioner for psychotherapy about 2 years ago.

Currently, she would like to expand her training and sharpen her focus areas through seminars, further training and internships after completing the examination in May 2022. 

Professionally and privately, writing has always had a high priority as a creative channel. This includes poems (e.g. for birthdays, weddings and other special occasions), which she writes individually on request.