‘Loneliness is a state of mind linked to wanting human contact but feeling alone’ I pondered for a while over this quote that I found online, when doing a little research for this blog. It’s true that loneliness is a state of mind, but I think you also ‘feel’ loneliness in your body, it’s literally aches. Body and mind are connected when we feel alone. In a way that we don’t really know what to do with ourselves. In 1981, Perlman and Peplau, wrote, ‘Loneliness is a subjective, unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of companionship, which happens when there is a mismatch between the quantity and quality of the social relationships that we have, and those that we want’ It sounds horrible really, yet 2.6million adults across the UK said they felt lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’. That’s roughly 5% of the adult population! It’s very likely that someone we encounter on a daily basis, at home, at work, or just passing on the commute feels this way, if not at points ourselves. According to The Campaign To End Loneliness the, feeling alone, and loneliness can have a major impact on health and in particular our mental health, They write,
Loneliness puts individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia
Lonely individuals are more prone to depression
Loneliness and low social interaction are predictive of suicide in older age
Loneliness and isolation are associated with poorer cognitive function among older adults
So what can be done to help individuals who feel isolated and lonely? •Take things at your own pace - if things have been difficult for a while, start slowly and introduce new things only when you’re ready. •Talking Therapies - therapy is a great way to express how you’re feeling without judgement or worry. You can build up confidence here and work on taking steps to reduce isolation and loneliness. •Look into peer support - this can initially be online or through a managed service. Talking to people who have similar experiences to you can make you feel less alone. •Track your mood - Take a note of what impacts your mood and how alone you feel. Awareness can often unlock change within ourselves. The most important thing we can do this Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s ‘take notice’. Check in on our loved ones and strangers alike, offer to sit alongside them for a minute or longer just to ‘be’.
As Winnie The Pooh (The greatest of all Philosophers) once said,
A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.