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Managing Loneliness

Managing Loneliness can be an incredibly difficult thing to do. Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme this year was loneliness. To feel lonely from time to time is not unusual, it is a normal human emotion. During the last two years it has become something that many more of us have experienced as we have been separated from our usual contacts with family, friends and colleagues.

The Marmalade Trust, a UK charity concerned with raising awareness about lonelines has the following definition of loneliness,

“Loneliness is a perceived mismatch between the quality or quantity of social connections that a person has and what they would like to have.” (Perlman, Daniel, and L. Anne Peplau. “Toward a social psychology of loneliness.” Personal relationships 3 (1981): 31-56.)

This means that we can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely if the quality of our connections with others is not how we need or want them to be.

Managing Loneliness

The Marmalade Trust identifies different kinds of loneliness:

When we talk about loneliness, we often talk about it in connection to older people but the BBC’s Loneliness Experiment found that younger people were more likely to experience loneliness than older people.

The experiment also came up with a list of strategies to combat loneliness

  • Find distracting activities or dedicate time to work, study, or hobbies.
  • Join a social club or take up new social activities and past times.
  • Change your thinking to make it more positive.
  • Start a conversation with anyone.
  • Talk to friends or family about feelings.
  • Look for the good in every person you meet.
  • Take time to think about why you feel lonely.
  • Carry on and wait for the feeling to pass.
  • Invite people without fearing rejection.
  • Tell someone else you feel lonely.

According to the Marmalade Trust many studies have been done to consider the impact of loneliness on our mental and physical health.

Loneliness has been linked to early deaths and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, cognitive decline and poor sleep. It’s as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. People who feel lonely are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s (and other forms of dementia) than those who do not feel lonely.

If you are feeling lonely you might want to try some of the suggestions listed above or browse through the Helpful Articles on this website for inspiration on different things you could do.

If you are struggling with any of the issues in this article you might want to talk to a professional. Paul offers each client the opportunity to speak with him first in an initial phone call to ensure that he is the right person for you to work with on the difficulties you are experiencing and to answer any questions that you have. Paul is currently only offering support online or on the telephone. Please call him on 07843 813 537 or fill in the form on the Contact Page, if he doesn’t answer he is probably in a session, please leave me a message and he will call you back as soon as he can.

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