As Loneliness Awareness Week continues, we examine the six most important facts you need to know about the condition.
Loneliness Awareness Week 2023
Yesterday on My Mind News, we took a closer look at Loneliness Awareness Week (LAW) and how loneliness affects people differently. We also looked at the Marmalade Trust and its work promoting Loneliness Awareness Week, which started in 2017.
But as we touched upon yesterday, there are many misconceptions about loneliness as a condition. That’s why today at My Mind News, we set out to debunk any myths about loneliness and provide six top tips about loneliness, according to the Marmalade Trust, that we all should know.
1. Loneliness is entirely natural
Most of us will experience loneliness at some point in our lives. Loneliness doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you – it’s your body’s way of letting you know you’re not meeting your social needs.
Consider it like a warning sign that you need to address your social needs – like hunger is a warning sign you need to eat.
2. Loneliness isn’t just something older people feel
People aged 16-24 are now the most likely group to be affected by loneliness, while women and people from ethnic minorities were amongst the groups most affected by loneliness during the pandemic.
45% of adults in England (25 million people) say they feel occasionally, sometimes, or often lonely.
3. There are different types of loneliness
Some loneliness is situational, where we might have moved to a new place or live somewhere where we don’t have the right level of connection. Loneliness can be linked to a specific life event like bereavement, a relationship breakdown, or becoming a new parent.
Workplace loneliness can be felt at work if you are not getting the right level of connection. Emotional loneliness can happen in relationships and families, where you have people in your life but don’t feel close to or understood by them.
There is no ‘one size fits all‘ to loneliness; more often than not, you won’t know someone is feeling lonely unless they say.
4. Think about how you describe loneliness
Very often, it’s described as something we ‘suffer’ from and admit to having. There is nothing to feel embarrassed or shameful about.
Try swapping in ‘experience’ instead of suffering and ‘telling’ instead of admitting. Using kinder and more accepting language around loneliness will help to remove the stigma further. Or, if you’re feeling lonely and uncomfortable saying it, you don’t have to name it explicitly.
Try saying something like – ‘I feel like I need more contact or company.’ This could also work if you feel someone is lonely but don’t know how to broach it and need a gentler way in.
5. Loneliness is fixable
Often it can feel overwhelming and something we will feel forever, but we can take immediate steps to feel better. Tell someone you trust how you’re feeling, think about what you need (we are all different), and make a plan to start getting those social connections you need.
If you feel that loneliness has a more profound detrimental impact on your life, contact a health professional.
6. Loneliness is NOT a mental health condition
It is a normal human reaction when we’re not getting our social needs met. If left unchecked, loneliness can start to affect our mental and physical health, but it’s essential to know that, first and foremost, it’s a normal and natural feeling.
However horrible it can feel when you’re in it, there is always something you can do to feel better. Most loneliness is temporary.
We probably all know someone who has felt lonely at some point in their lives. Perhaps that someone is you? In any case, spreading awareness about loneliness and, most importantly, what can be done about it will help to reduce the numbers affected by loneliness in the future.
For more information about loneliness and Loneliness Awareness Week specifically, take a look at the Marmalade Trust’s LAW website.