In 2018, the UK appointed a Minister for Loneliness to tackle the growing epidemic affecting the lives of so many. According to The Guardian, ‘social isolation affects one in 10Australians, while one in six experience periods of emotional loneliness’. There has been a proposal for introducing a Minister for Loneliness in Australia, however this has not happened yet so far.
This year has been a tough one for everyone and due to the forced isolation that COVID has caused and there has been an increase in mental health issues around the world. If there was ever a time for tackling the issue of loneliness, it would be now.
The anxiety doesn’t stop there though. The holiday period is steadily approaching, an exciting time for a lot of people but also a stressful time for many others. There are some burdens that come along with this time of year, some include financial stressors and family issues.
There is good news though, there are ways to manage those feelings of loneliness and isolation. Don’t know where to start? Keep reading.
1. Reach out to those around you. There is unfortunately still a stigma around vulnerability and admitting to others that you are feeling lonely. But the thing is, most people feel this at some point in their lives, others stronger and for longer periods than most. If you have someone you feel comfortable talking to, communicate your feelings with them. If you don’t, continue down this list. Don’t give up.
2. Join a club or volunteer. Think of a hobby you’ve always wanted to try out. Sign up and go for it. It may be daunting, but by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone you never know who you might meet. Don’t feel like picking up a new hobby? Find a cause to volunteer for. There are many people who are struggling in different ways and it always feels good to give back to society.
3. Write it out. You’ve probably heard many people talk about journaling and maybe said “nope not for me”. However, there have been a number of scientific studies done to show the therapeutic benefits. If you have a number of intrusive and debilitating thoughts jump into your brain, try clearing it out by writing them down. This is a great way to gain perspective and find space for more optimistic thoughts.
4. Get active. At the most basic level, exercising releases endorphins, clears your mind and gives you energy. If you’re lucky enough to have full mobility, take advantage of that and find the little things to be grateful for. If you have a disability of any form, find that thing that makes you happy. Meditate, put on a funny film or tv show, sit out in nature or find a cute animal to pet.
These are definitely the basics to alleviating those feelings of isolation and loneliness. Find the small things that make you happy and remember that you are never alone even when it feels like it. The most important thing is to not to be so hard on yourself, having down moments is a normal part of being human.
Written by Demi Mason a recent UWA graduate of English and Cultural studies, yoga instructor, mental health advocate and aspiring nurse. You can keep up to date with Demi at @demi.mason