Mental Health Awareness Week is May 9th – 15th and the theme this year is loneliness. Nearly 41% of adults across the globe report feeling occasionally, sometimes, or often lonely.
Remember you are not alone. Before we continue exploring this year's theme of loneliness, take a moment to check in with your mind and body by following our body scan video and guide below:
So, What is Loneliness?
A common belief is that loneliness is about ‘being’ alone. However, some people who are surrounded by other people can still experience deep and pervasive loneliness. So, loneliness is about ‘feeling’ alone and isolated and not necessarily being physically alone. Perceiving a lack of authenticity, quality, and support in relationships can result in feelings of loneliness.
Risk Factors of Loneliness
Many factors such as being unemployed, living alone, physical isolation, having small social networks, dissatisfaction with the quality of relationships, relationship breakups, death of someone significant, and low self-esteem can contribute to feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is often a particular concern among older individuals, who may be more socially isolated. However, young people often report high levels of loneliness as well. One recently published study found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, younger people were actually more likely to experience loneliness and increased levels of anxiety than the older age group.
Impact of Loneliness
Loneliness can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health. Chronic loneliness is associated with alcohol and drug misuse, Alzheimer's disease progression, cardiovascular disease, and stroke decreased memory and learning, and depression, stress, and suicide.
Ways to Overcome Loneliness:
First, acknowledge your feelings of loneliness and how this impacts your daily life.
Become aware of your negative perceptions about yourself, others, and your social interactions with others.
Be kind to yourself, practice self-compassion, and limit hurtful self-talk.
Try to engage in more social activities rather than staying alone watching Netflix or browsing on social media.
Spend your money on experiences with others. Plan a weekend trip, try out a new restaurant, and host a barbecue party or a board game event. Sharing experiences with people can help create more meaningful connections and might make you feel less lonely.
Shift your focus to what you can give to others rather than what you get. You can volunteer in a charity and raise money for a good cause.
Practice self-care. Create a physical exercise routine to bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, endorphins. Maintain a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole foods and fresh fruit and vegetables. Improve your sleep quality by limiting your sugar and caffeine intake before sleep, and make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet.
We know that struggling with your mental health can make you feel isolated and alone, but you’re not alone. With SilverCloud you are part of a safe and confidential worldwide community of nearly 1 million people.
As you work through exercises in SilverCloud you can leave messages and feedback – this may be shared anonymously with others and help them on their journey of self-care.
SilverCloud’s Space for Resilience program has been designed to build resilience for the long term by helping you:
- Seek positive coping methods for dealing with your challenges
- Implement newly learned problem-solving strategies
- Self-reflect and find balance in your various life areas…and more!
Stay connected. You are not alone. Take a moment to check in with your mind and body by following our body scan video and guide below:
About the author
Selin is a Clinical Research Associate at SilverCloud Health and has experience as a clinical psychologist. She received her PhD in Psychology at Trinity College Dublin, where she conducted research on developing an online CBT program for reducing depression and anxiety symptoms in breast cancer survivors. Selin is passionate about bringing her clinical skills to design and implement research to improve mental health and wellbeing