Many of us have experienced loneliness during our lives and the pain of social isolation. Loneliness is a phenomenon of growing global concern. It has made many of us aware of the importance of reaching out to someone (e.g. your elderly neighbour) to make sure they are okay.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has highlighted the mental and physical impacts from loneliness. Research has helped us understand the power of human connection on our well-being. As human beings we need safe, secure and social surroundings to survive and thrive. It is a normal response to feel lonely in these socially restricted times. However, if you feel loneliness is negatively impacting your daily life, you can chat to your GP or seek therapy for help.
Loneliness is a subjective feeling that you may experience if you feel your relationships do not meet your expectations or needs. It is the state of being without any company or in isolation from community or society. Loneliness for many may signal a need to form a meaningful connection with others.
Loneliness has been found to be a risk factor for many disorders like depression, anxiety, adjustment disorders and chronic stress. It has also been linked to higher risk of mortality, high blood pressure, overeating, faster progression of coronary artery disease, heart failure and poor sleep quality. Another recent study also found that loneliness may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
Trends are also showing an increase in loneliness in emergency workers, hospital workers, mental health professionals, careers and young adults. Many of these professions are overworked and are finding it very difficult to establish meaningful relationships. Loneliness for many is negatively impacted their mental health.
There are some very small mindful steps we can take that may help to reduce loneliness;
- Make a special effort to connect with someone like a neighbour, a friend or a relative.
- Connect with a group or society of likeminded people (spiritual, cultural, book club, etc)
- Connect to nature – observing the beauty of a simple flower can lift the spirits
- Exercise regularly – we are reminded that movement produces positive feelings and can help us calm down
- Volunteering -your time in service to others can certainly create meaning and purpose for you and others.
- Have a coffee with a friend
- Read a book you have always wanted to read
- Listen or dance to your favourite music
Think about what you enjoy doing – it may help beat loneliness!