14 June 2021

Loneliness Awareness Week

Over the last year, with social distancing, lockdowns and the cancellation of public events, classes and activities, there have been far fewer opportunities to reach out and connect with our friends, families and fellow human beings. And even when we can spend time with others, we can still sometimes have a lingering feeling of not connecting, of not feeling part of it, of loneliness.

This week (14-18 June) is Loneliness Awareness Week and we’re very happy to be involved, working to raise awareness of loneliness and encouraging people to speak about it more openly.

What is loneliness?

When we feel lonely, we generally experience a sense of isolation or disconnection from others, or a feeling that we’re lacking or missing out on social connections and companionship. Loneliness is normally associated with what’s going on in our lives (or what isn’t), as opposed to depression or anxiety, which can be a constant or all-pervasive feeling, whatever the circumstances.

Is loneliness normal?

YES! We all feel lonely at times. It’s a totally normal human emotion. As a species, we’re biologically wired for social contact, and loneliness is our signal that we need more of it.

Who experiences loneliness?

Most of us will experience loneliness at some point in our lives, regardless of age, circumstances or background. It’s a common misconception that loneliness is limited to older people. In fact, it’s now 16–24-year-olds who are reported to be the loneliest age group in the UK.

Why do I feel lonely even when I’m not alone?

Though we all experience loneliness, how we experience it differs. Some people might feel lonely in a room crowded with people. It’s all about the quantity and the quality of the social connections we’re making and how these compare to our needs as individuals.

What causes loneliness?

Most loneliness is associated with change. Loneliness is more likely to be triggered by certain key events in life, including moving somewhere new, starting university or a new job, retiring, becoming a new parent, suffering a bereavement or going through a relationship break-up. Living through a global pandemic, with a year of lockdowns and social distancing, is a likely contender too!

How do we talk about loneliness?

Telling someone that you’re lonely is an important step but it’s also important to be mindful of how we talk about it. We still use words like ‘admitting’ to and ‘suffering’ from, which can unintentionally add to the belief that something is wrong with us. There is absolutely no shame in feeling lonely and changing the language around loneliness is a positive and liberating step forward.

What should I do if I’m feeling lonely?

Loneliness can often feel overwhelming and something out of our control, so it can be useful to have a starting point. The Marmalade Trust, the people behind Loneliness Awareness Week, suggest you start with a three-step approach:

  1. Acknowledge the feelings of loneliness.
  2. Identify what your needs are.
  3. Take the appropriate action.

This week, we’ll be using our social media accounts to post some tops tips for helping yourself and others feel more connected, and we’ll end the week with a summary of the advice and support available from Mayfair, here on our website.

Remember, you always have a friend in us.