Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self. May Sarton (Belgian – American Poet).
Loneliness Awareness Week is 14 to 18 June 2021 and is hosted by Marmalade Trust. It’s a campaign to raises awareness of loneliness and get people talking about it. In 2020, they reached around 271 million people with their campaign – all while in lockdown.
This Loneliness Awareness Week, they are encouraging us to view loneliness as an experience, not as a condition. Loneliness doesn’t have to define us. Everyone feels lonely from time to time. We are social creatures after all. We are designed for social contact and loneliness is simply the signal that we need more of it. So, by building greater awareness and acceptance of loneliness, we can help ourselves and others to better manage the feeling.
Covid-19 has meant that many of us are working from home over the past months, separated from our colleagues and many of our usual social connections. But even before the pandemic, an increasing numbers of people were experiencing loneliness in their working lives. The Co-Op and New Economics Foundation found that loneliness costs UK employers over £2.5 billion a year due to increased sick days, time off to care for others, burnout, to lower productivity and poor staff retention levels.
Loneliness can have a great impact on our mental and physical health. When someone suffers long-term loneliness, they are more likely to engage in unhealthy lifestyle choices. For example, poor diet, lack of exercise or increased use of alcohol, nicotine and other substances. This leaves them at a higher risk of obesity and other associated health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Studies have also discovered that loneliness and a lack of social stimulation is associated with long-term cognitive decline. This can affect memory and develop into more serious neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Furthermore, chronic loneliness can impair the immune system, leaving us less able to fight off illness and disease. The Neuroscientist and Researcher, John Cacioppo, found that people who felt acutely lonely over prolonged periods had higher levels of inflammation in their bodies.
After more than a year of lockdowns, social distancing, and other restrictions, more of us are experiencing loneliness than ever and this is having an impact on our wellbeing. We need to remove the stigma and shame surrounding loneliness.
So, if you are experiencing loneliness then reach out to others. If you have conditions that restrict your ability to do this, such as low confidence / self-esteem or anxiety, then contact me and we can discuss how hypnotherapy can help. Additionally, if you are struggling to adjust to return to normal or have picked up unwanted habits or addictions, then get in touch to see how I can help.