Loneliness is being recognised as a problem for many in today’s society
On October 15th 2018 Theresa May launched the first cross-Government strategy to tackle loneliness. Funding was also made available to help communities build stronger connections in a bid to alleviate social isolation and that feeling of being solo.
We asked The Group Hug Community what was their main reason for joining The Group Hug and the majority of them replied “loneliness”.
We’ve tweeted the current PM to see if the current government is doing the same thing. Let’s see if they reply. Loneliness is a big issue for many. Who even speaks to their neighbours these days? We drive in and out of our homes without even knowing who is in our neighbourhood. When the Autumn hits, the elderly start to feel more vulnerable as they know the long dark days and nights are on their way. For many, their only interaction with the outside world is if they become ill and have to see seek medical assistance or have a spell in hospital. Society sees being aware of your neighbours as “nosey”.
Throughout our lives there are certain circumstances which can lead us to feel lonely and The triggers for loneliness are common and run alongside life changes.
- Becoming a parent – especially if you are a younger parent
- Leaving care
- The break-up of a long-term relationship/marriage
- Bereavement – loss of a partner
- Becoming a full-time carer, for example looking after an elderly parent
- Suffering redundancy/unemployment
- Suffering from empty-nest when the kids leave home
Of course, there are other life issues which can cause us to feel alone too.
Loneliness and wellbeing has been declared as one of the biggest public health challenges of our time and this led to The ex Prime Minister confirming that by 2023 all GP’s across England will be able to refer patients to community activities and services. This will be called ‘social prescribing’; basically writing a prescription for ‘social interaction’. Every day, across the UK people are making calls to the emergency services for issues which do not really require a callout because they are simply lonely. GP’s have many patients who make an appointment to just have a chat.
It is great news that the issue of feeling lonely is out in the open and being spoken about; measures are being put in place to help the vulnerable as it is reported that 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative for one month; this is absolutely shocking.
Social media helps many to feel less isolated
Sometimes we may seek solitude because we just feel like being alone. However, long-term isolation has a detrimental effect on our health and well-being and that’s where social media and websites such as The Group Hug can enable people to connect and make new acquaintances.
Although it cannot replace that physical face-to-face interaction, it can help to alleviate the feeling of complete isolation. There are opportunities for like-minded people to connect in the forum or within the Facebook group and meet if they wish. Small local networks have been built and there have been many cases of people meeting-up through the site and becoming firm friends. Feeling lonely is an unfortunate reality for many and it can affect anyone at anytime across all social backgrounds.
How can you help yourself to feel less lonely?
So, what can you do if you feel all alone? There is help out there and it is not a sign of weakness to admit that you are feeling on your own. Have you tried the Meetup App? It’s a super way to make new local friends because you simply enter your information, what you like to do and hey presto, you will start to get invitations to things you might like to engage in. It could be walking, pub lunches, interesting talks. Don’t feel shy about attending as most of the people in the group probably experienced the feeling of loneliness exactly like you; hence why they joined the group in the first place. On top of that, many of the meet-ups are free.
Are you a parent flying solo?
If you are a new parent, there are plenty of baby and toddler groups, so seek them out. You don’t need to pay fortunes to go to a fancy class and you won’t be alone. Reach out to your local church as the majority of them will have some kind of baby group running. Take a look at your local community centre to see what they are offering too and remember that these are for Dad’s too. Gone are the days when a Dad should feel awkward at a children’s group.
Uncoupled and alone?
Separating from a partner or becoming unhitched, often leaves people feeling lonely because some friends disappear from the radar as they don’t want to choose which “camp” they are in Others simply ditch you as you are no longer part of a couple and other, so-called friends dump you for no apparent reason, but maybe they are jealous of your strength? Many people say that a single male or female friend is a threat to the stability of their own troubled relationship. Loneliness can also hit those who are in a couple and in fact, there is probably nothing worse than feeling lonely when you are with a partner.
The biggest thing, is not to be in ‘victim’ mode for too long, you have to find the strength to reach out and get on with your life as there are opportunities. These may not be so easy to find if you are housebound or elderly. A counsellor, coach or therapist can help you to look forward and have life goals again. There will be things you want to do to achieve if you look hard enough. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and we need a helping hand to ease ourselves out.