Loneliness Awareness Week 2023, hosted by the Marmalade Trust is held from Monday 12th June – Sunday 18th June. This significant week aims to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding loneliness in the hope to get people talking about it. The week encourages everyone to create supportive communities by having conversations with family, friends, or colleagues about loneliness. By talking about it, we can support ourselves and others.
There is no shame in feeling lonely and changing the language around loneliness is a positive and liberating step forward. The more we talk about it, the more we normalise it and we can move towards a society where it can be spoken about openly.
What is Loneliness?
As social animals, humans rely on human interactions to maintain good psychological wellbeing. We all need different levels of interaction. Some people are happy in their own company, while others hate to be alone. Despite these differences, we all need some social interaction to stay healthy and happy. Research estimates that over 9 million in the UK are lonely at any given time; one in ten people feel that they lack a close friend to confide in, and one in five feel unloved. That means that you almost certainly live, work, or socialise with someone who feels lonely.
Loneliness can be a transient feeling that comes and goes. It can also be situational; for example only occurring at certain times like Sundays, bank holidays, or Christmas. Or loneliness can be chronic; meaning someone feels lonely all or most of the time. In addition it can also be characterised by its intensity, or how strongly it is felt, which can change from moment to moment and over different durations of time. According to the ONS, women reported feeling lonely more frequently than men. They were significantly more likely than men to report feeling lonely “often/always”, “some of the time” and “occasionally” and were much less likely than men to say they “never” felt lonely.
Loneliness should improve with time. However, often it’s advisable to address the situation in the early stages to prevent it becoming a chronic issue. Loneliness is now being recognised for its damaging effects, some research suggests that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems and increased stress. Loneliness Awareness Week aims to address the issues around loneliness and highlight how it can affect our mental health, to encourage people to do something about it.
How to manage feelings of loneliness
Connect with people
Connecting with the people around you, your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, and even new friendships are key to your overall wellbeing. Loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad, 2010). Try to join a class or group based on your hobbies or interests, not only will you be doing something you enjoy, but you’ll meet people with similar interests. Another great way to connect is through volunteering. Giving to others can improve your mental health and wellbeing but also gives a sense of purpose and creates positive feelings whilst meeting new people. When you are feeling lonely, you can sometimes be in a negative frame of mind. Thinking about the good things in your life, remembering happy times or identifying at least one thing each day to be thankful for can help you to think more positively.
Talk about your feelings
If at times, life gets too much for you, it’s important that you speak to someone about how you are feeling, this may be a family member or trusted friend, your GP, or a professional organisation. You might feel that you know plenty of people, but what is actually wrong is that you don’t feel close to them, or they don’t give you the care and attention you need. In this situation it might help to open up about how you feel to friends and family. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to the people you know, you could try speaking with a therapist or using a peer support service. However lonely you are feeling, there is always something you can do to feel better. Loneliness Awareness Week 2023 is a good tine to start to make a positive change.
How Can Wellity Support You this Loneliness Awareness Week 2023?
Loneliness Awareness Week 2023 encourages everyone to harness these moments of connection, whether it’s your regular barista, the friendly dog on your walk, or the shopkeeper down the road, everyday moments of connection matter.
A Wellity session ‘Why Loneliness Hurts’ will explore the impact of loneliness and how to help those around us feel a sense of connection with the world. It will promote the necessity of social wellbeing and how to practically support a colleague who may be feeling lonely and isolated – physically, or mentally.
For any information on other training titles we offer surrounding this topic, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.