Loneliness doesn’t discriminate and it can affect anyone. Loneliness is subjective, it is emotional, the felt experience of an individual, the negative and unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of companionship. It takes place when there is a mismatch between the quantity and quality of social relationships that we have and those which we would like or expect to have.
This film with Claire Keatinge, Northern Ireland’s first Commissioner for Older People; Anna Mullaney, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM); and Cheryl Culver, Remark! Community, shares more about loneliness and why some groups are more at risk of becoming lonely:
Here, the Campaign to End Loneliness shares some tips on what to do if you’re feeling lonely:
Loneliness is a normal human emotion and we all experience it; it is simply a sign of wanting contact with people. It is not a personal failing and it’s important not to blame yourself for feeling this way. There are things that we can all do ourselves to help prevent it.
Think about yourself
Think about what you would like more of – maybe time with friends or family, if so invite them to visit. Often if you are lonely you think people do not want to visit. This is understandable but often people will respond to an invitation and will come and spend quality time with you.
Look after yourself
If you can do something to improve your health, take small steps to eat well, take gentle exercise and keep active, all of these things can help you to relax more fully in your own company.
Your community and neighbourhood
Find out what local activities are being planned and book them up: walks, singing groups, book clubs and bridge.
Speak to a health worker if you feel very lonely
Long term loneliness could contribute to later depression and other health problems. Your GP should be able to direct you to local services that can help.
Share your skills and time with others
You can offer time or specific skills by helping out in your street, neighbourhood or with local organisations or by volunteering.
Visit the Campaign to End Loneliness to find out more.