It has been a tough year for many of us and even those of us that are usually very resilient have struggled at times. Yes, even Gemma in her pink, sparkly bubble has, at times, needed help and support. We all have! But what if you do not have access to support? What if you are surrounded by people and still feel alone? What if you are lonely?
With Christmas, one of the times in the year that we can feel the most alone, fast approaching we wanted to broach the subject of loneliness. First let me say, no matter what it feels like, you are not alone! If you feel you need to talk call Samaritans free on 116 123.
What is loneliness
“We all feel lonely from time to time. Feelings of loneliness are personal, so everyone’s experience of loneliness will be different.
One common description of loneliness is the feeling we get when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships is not met. But loneliness is not always the same as being alone.”
Most of us feel lonely from time to time, but the forced isolation periods this year means that the number of people feeling the effects of loneliness has grown drastically! With having to isolate, not being able to be in our normal work environment, only meeting people from other households outside, not mixing with family members and friends and the restriction of 3 households over the Christmas period means that sadly this number is only going to increase.
What are the effects of loneliness?
Loneliness and isolation can affect your ability to concentrate, your sleep may be affected, your ability to make decisions and solve problems might not be as they usually are and if left unchecked loneliness can lead to anxiety and/or depression.
How to combat loneliness
- Connect with family and friends digitally – we might not be able to spend time with the people we love physically but staying connected and having regular chats can help stave off your feeling of loneliness
- Public places – go for a walk in your local park, go to a café (if permitted in your area) or attend a new group or class. Sometimes just being around other people is enough to combat feeling lonely. Joining a new class will also give you a new focus as well as an opportunity to make a new connection.
- Help others – pitching in as a volunteer with a local charity or group can give you wonderful warm feelings and make you feel more connected to the world. Consider who else in your community might be feeling lonely, why not volunteer for initiatives like AgeUK’s befriending service. Two birds one stone!
- The NHS website has a helpful list of 6 ways to be happier – well worth a look!
- Try a relaxation or mindfulness app – these are a great way to help you to relax and centre yourself once more
- Talk – whether it is to a friend, a relation, your neighbour or a counsellor, talking through your troubles really can help!
If you feel you need help, please reach out to someone. We are all trying to weather, as best we can, the same storm. Whilst circumstances differ from person to person, the way it has affected each of us also varies greatly. You do not need to validate your feelings, that is like trying to discern what yellow smells and sounds like, your feelings are your feelings, they don’t have to be logical. In the first instance we strongly recommend talking to your GP.