Organised by The Marmalade Trust, Loneliness Awareness Week is taking place this week (15 - 19th June 2020)
There is recognition that loneliness can have a detrimental effect on our physical and mental health. While living alone may be seen as an obvious cause of loneliness, it is worth remembering that it is possible to live alone and not feel lonely, and, conversely, it is possible to live with others and experience an aching sense of inner loneliness. Loneliness is defined as the mismatch between the quantity or quality of a person’s social connections and how they would like them to be.
Given the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, there have been obvious and significant restrictions imposed on the extent to which we can engage physically and socially with others. Those whose sense of loneliness is exacerbated by the lack of physical proximity to others have been deeply affected and many who live alone have found themselves enduring weeks without face to face contact or touch. This has been especially difficult for those who do not have access to digital technology and therefore cannot even remotely “see” friends and family.
In combating loneliness, especially in the midst of current restrictions, it may be helpful to:
- Make the most of what opportunities there are for interaction – telephone, social media/ online communities, a chat from a distance with a neighbour etc.
- Watch your thinking and be careful not to let yourself dwell on difficult things e.g. missing “normal life” and visits from friends. This is likely to create a sense of distress and deepen loneliness. Learn how to interrupt unhelpful spirals of negative thinking.
- Setting achievable goals can be helpful, and if someone you know has similar goals this can become a shared topic of discussion and an opportunity to offer mutual encouragement.
- If you are in a position to offer help or companionship to someone, this can give a sense of purpose and reduce isolation.
Finally check out a list of other suggestions on tackling loneliness at https://marmaladetrust.org/law-loneliness-guide/