“LONELINESS IS EMPTINESS BEGGING TO BE FILLED” - CHRISTY ANN MARTINE
Loneliness is… something we all feel at times
Loneliness is… completely natural
Loneliness is… fixable
Connection sits at the very heart of what makes us human. We are hard-wired to connect, be seen, be heard, and be known. So when we feel isolated or lacking in connection, it’s no surprise that we can experience feelings of loneliness.
By definition, loneliness is ‘the state of being alone and feeling sad about it’.
Loneliness can present itself in many different forms, from emotional and social loneliness to situational loneliness (such as being alone on Sundays or at Christmas) and even chronic loneliness (a persistent feeling of loneliness). And it doesn’t always occur when we’re alone either.
Sometimes we can experience feelings of loneliness even when we’re around others but perhaps feel as if we’re not being understood, supported, or when our emotional needs aren’t being met.
Who Does Loneliness Affect?
We tend to think of loneliness as something associated mainly with older people, but, according to a BBC experiment that looked at 55,000 people, despite living in a hyper-connected world, 16-24 year-olds are in fact, the loneliest age group.
In a society that was already feeling increasingly lonely, lockdown certainly hasn’t helped to reduce that, which is why, this year, loneliness was the main focus of Mental Health Awareness Week. Following the pandemic, the rate of loneliness was three times higher than that of pre-pandemic times, according to the Mental Health Foundation. And whilst loneliness isn’t a mental health condition, it can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health and can cause feelings of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and even sleep disorders.
What to do if you’re feeling lonely?
There are lots of different ways to help ease those feelings of loneliness. Some of our own tried and tested ways are to:
- Get creative - immerse yourself in a creative task, whether that’s gardening, baking, reading, or drawing, and choose something that will help you feel connected and spark a positive feeling.
- Message a friend or family member. Get in touch with someone and arrange to catch up. Maybe that’s a close friend or family member that you can share how you feel, or perhaps it’s someone you’ve not spoken to in a while.
- Take time away from social media - social media can leave us feeling disconnected at times, as we’re presented with everyone’s ‘highlight reel’, so taking time away from social media can actually help you feel more connected to the world around you.
- Get involved in your local community. Sign up for a local event such as a walking group, connect with an older person within your community or join a book club.
- Treat yourself - send yourself a letterbox gift in the post to remind yourself, "You are enough, a thousand times enough”
How to support someone who is feeling lonely?
If you’ve noticed that someone in your life, a friend, a neighbour, or a colleague, are experiencing loneliness there are lots of ways you can support them:
- Invite them on a walk. It can be easier to walk and talk than sit and chat, and it gets you out in nature.
- Send them a message to let them know you’re here for them.
- Validate their feelings, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. You don’t have to understand to be supportive.
- Send them some happy post, like our ‘You’re not alone’ TreatBox.
The 13th to 17th of June marks Loneliness Awareness Week, hosted by Marmalade Trust. An annual campaign to raise awareness of loneliness and get people talking and connected. And this year, we’re supporting the campaign in their quest to quell loneliness by donating £3 for every ‘You’re not alone’ TreatBox sold. So, not only will you be helping a friend out, but you’re also helping others who are struggling with feelings of loneliness.
And don’t forget; if you or a loved one are experiencing loneliness, there are lots of places that can help to support you