Do you get lonely?

17-06-2021

Do you 'get' lonely? By building our understanding of it, we can help ourselves and others to manage the feeling.

Loneliness Awareness Week (14-18 June), ran by UK Charity, Marmalade Trust, aims to raise awareness of loneliness and support each other to find new social connections.

Chronic loneliness is one of the biggest health concerns we face, and it's on the rise. Nine million people in the UK - more than the population of London - are always or often lonely.

Loneliness can affect us at any point in our lives and has been a big issue over the last year. With social distancing, isolating and shielding, we have all felt lonely and vulnerable throughout the pandemic at one stage or another. So there is no better time to raise awareness and help each other with this overwhelming feeling.

What is loneliness?

We all feel lonely at times - it's a normal human emotion. You don't have to be alone to be lonely either - you could be in a relationship, spending lots of times with friends and family or have a house full of children. You can still feel lonely, especially if you don't feel understood or cared for by the people around you.

There are different types of loneliness, including:

  • Emotional - When someone you were very close with is no longer there. This could be a partner or a close friend.
  • Social - When you feel like you lack a wider social network of friends, neighbours, colleagues.
  • Transient - A feeling of loneliness that comes and goes.
  • Situational - A feeling of loneliness at certain times like Sundays, bank holidays or Christmas.
  • Chronic - when you feel lonely all or most of the time.
Who experiences loneliness?

Most of us will experience loneliness at some point in our lives, regardless of age, circumstance and background. There are lots of key life moments which will increase the likelihood of feeling lonely, for example:

  • Moving away from home
  • Starting University or a new job
  • Becoming a new parent or being on maternity leave
  • A relationship break up
  • Suffering a bereavement
  • Retirement
  • Having ill health

There has been lots of research on the effects of loneliness on our mental and physical health, and it has been linked to early deaths and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, cognitive decline and poor sleep.

If you or someone you know are struggling with loneliness, there are lots of things you can do:

  • Find out about local services in your area that might hold coffee mornings, meetings, day centres etc.
  • Consider a befriending service like Age UK.
  • Call a loved one every day for a chat - this makes a big difference, especially if you struggle to get out of the house.
  • Connect with your neighbours
  • Start a new hobby and see if there are any groups that you can join for that hobby on social media
  • Talk to your GP if your loneliness is overwhelming or concerned about your mental or physical health.
  • Create a structure to your day and create goals
  • Get some fresh air if you can
  • Talk to someone about how you are feeling
  • Connect with friends on social media

Sources:

Loneliness Awareness Week | Marmalade Trust

Combating elderly loneliness | Age UK