Loneliness Awareness Week

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Health Assured team

27 May 2021

A recent survey from the Mental Health Foundation shows that 24% of adults in the UK had feelings of loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic. Loneliness was higher in young people, people who are unemployed, students, and single parents. 

Loneliness Awareness Week aims to address the issues around loneliness, and highlight how it can affect our mental health.  

Understanding loneliness 

Feeling lonely can mean different things to different people, some people will feel that their need for social interactions are not being met while for others it is that feeling of emptiness and being disconnected from the rest of the world. 

Being on your own can be a positive experience if it is under your control. But feeling like you have little or no support around you can have a serious impact on your mental health. Some of the effects of loneliness can lead to anxiety, depression, poor self-esteem and phobias.  

What are the signs of loneliness? 

Loneliness signs and symptoms can differ depending on the person and their situation, but the main signs are: 

Sleepwhen people feel lonely, they tend to experience a change in their sleeping patterns, feeling more or less tired than usual. 

Spending money: people who are feeling lonely may spend money on ‘unnecessary’ things to fill the void.  

Eating habitsover-eating or under-eating are closely link to depression.  Some people would console themselves by eating too much, while others would lose their appetite and find other ways to make themselves feel better. 

Communicationinconsistency in communication patterns such as phoning and messaging more or less frequently. 

Physical healthaside from sleep deprivation, loneliness can also lead to poor heart health and weakened immune system.  

Tips to combat loneliness. 

It is possible to overcome loneliness, but it does require effort on your part for changes to happen. In the long run, taking that first step will help you feel happier and healthier. 

Speak to someone talk to friends, family or a healthcare professional. Loneliness is not limited to feelings of isolation. It is often linked to ongoing and deeply rooted negative thoughts about yourself that can eventually lead to more serious emotional and medical problems. 

Practice self-carewhen you are feeling lonely, make sure you are doing what you can to look after yourself Pamper yourself with a long bath, meditate and exercise.  

Distract yourselffind healthy distractions like reading, listening to music or even watching your favourite series on TV. You can even start a project like decorating your home. 

Join a support groupa support group online or in-person is a good way to meet new people especially those who are experiencing the same feeling of loneliness as you. Getting to know new people may not be easy, but it can be really comforting to know that you are not alone. 

It has been a very challenging year for everyone, with our lives temporarily on hold due to lockdown. It’s likely that a lot of us will be feeling lonely, especially those who have been isolating on their own. 

For this year’s Loneliness Awareness Week, take a moment to do something that makes you feel good about yourself. And if you know someone who is experiencing loneliness, then reach out to them whether it’s over the phone or in personSometimes just a few minutes of your time can mean a lot to someone that really needs it. 

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