Loneliness comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be mild, or extreme. It can be hidden, unexplained. People can even be lonely when they are surrounded by people. It is difficult to explain because its cause and its symptoms will be different in every one of us.
There is one commonality though. Loneliness, if not dealt with, can lead to much greater problems. Loneliness can be the catalyst to social anxiety, depression, addiction… and worse.
Loneliness Awareness Week couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time because many people are struggling with the isolation that the COVID-19 virus has brought with it. Many elderly people, and those with health problems, who can be particularly susceptible to loneliness are having to shield for up to 12 weeks and find the measure of social distancing too constrictive to their daily lives. Not able to see their friends, go to church, visit their groups, clubs or even meet up in a café. This is really not a good portent for anyone suffering with existing mental health problems and so often the two are linked.
Loneliness Awareness Week was set up in order that we can be reminded that loneliness can be devasting for so many. We have seen so many communities rallying to help the elderly and those who are having to shield due to health issues, but we should really be thinking about the bigger picture.
Once COVID-19 is a thing of the past, will we still be thinking of those people who might be suffering in silence. Our Special Friends understands that animals are great at making us feel connected and cared for. Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and ease loneliness. Our volunteers have shown great spirit during this time in thinking of ingenious ways to keep in touch with clients so they don’t feel alone.
If you are lonely or feel you know of someone who is lonely there are some places to go for comfort and advice.
Mind – Living with Loneliness
Explains loneliness, including the causes of loneliness and how it relates to mental health problems. Gives practical tips to help manage feelings of loneliness, and other places you can go for support.
The Marmalade Trust
The Marmalade Trust is dedicated to recognising loneliness and helping people make new friendships. They offer resources, help, videos and stories to help share and understand the implications of loneliness.
Reachout.com have published 10 things to do it you are feeling lonely. Their website is full of articles, tools and aps for young and old alike.
Image by Henriet Haan from Pixabay