Are You Lonely?

Do you ever feel lonely? I was recently asked my for my thoughts on loneliness by Health & Fitness magazine, following the publication of a Mental Health Foundation report on that topic. The report discovered that 1 in 10 people frequently experience loneliness, and that 42% of us have been depressed because we felt alone at some point in our lives. That’s an awful lot of us!

Women Suffer More?

The report also had some statistics to show that women, particularly younger women, seem to be more lonely than their male counterparts.

I think there may be two reasons for this:

One, women need the friendship of other women when they are under stress and recent research indicates that they need to bond. They release oxytocin at times of stress, the bonding hormone, so is it possible that women feel the absence of company more strongly?

And two, I wonder if women are more likely to admit to feeling lonely than men? Women certainly discuss their emotions more and are more likely to seek help in other areas of life.

Tips to Fix Loneliness

  • Take some time trying to work out how your loneliness has arisen. Often it’s about loss, of a partner, a friendship, a new job meaning a move. Or it may be the isolation of finding yourself home with a new baby, or unemployed. Sometimes there is no discernable cause; relationships have just drifted, friends are in new relationships, etc, or have moved away. It’s worth taking a few moments to ponder why.
  • Texting and social media sites are no substitute for real human contact. Touch is especially important. Try and get out most days and actually speak to a real person, or phone someone you care about.
  • Think about what you like doing. If you love reading, for example, that might not seem to present opportunities for contact being a solitary activity but book clubs abound! Bookshops often host them, or you could even start one of your own!
  • Some kind of physical activity has the added bonus of raising your spirits and if you can combine that with meeting others, double whammy! So, if you like walking, what about the Rambler’s Association? This has the added advantage of usually being a week end activity and week ends, especially Sundays, can be peak lonely times.
  • Offer your services to a charity. Helping with a fundraising event can give you a feel good factor but will also bring you into contact with others.
  • Take a sneak peek at yourself in shop mirrors. We communicate so much by our body language. What is yours saying? Do you see a miserable looking person, eyes down, no smile. If so, you may be unwittingly putting up a barrier to friendship. Try smiling, even when you don’t feel like it! It really makes a difference.
  • And finally, sometimes we just need a bit of extra help in our lives, some encouragement and support to do the things we know will help us but lack the motivation to do. That might be from a friend or a professional. Sometimes it takes time to unravel why we feel like we do but it’s time well spent and can lead to a much happier outlook on life!

If you have any tips or advice to share I’d love to hear from you!

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Posted on July 4th, 2010 by

4 Responses to “Are You Lonely?”

  1. Ed Han says:

    Very interesting, Jane. As ever, I find your blog entries thought-provoking!

  2. Ceri says:

    Hi Jane, I have found that loneliness has been a major issue for many of the women I have spoken to as part of a project I am working on – some have joined some great groups (other than the obvious sporting ones)- Rock Choir seems to have been a favourite – as has the Red Hat Society, and for anyone London based there is the London Ladies Club where women meet regularly for lunches, talks and events. There are numerous ‘supper clubs’- I went along to one in Herts- great to meet new people if like me you have recently relocated.Many women seem to have gone along on their own which can be daunting, but received warm welcomes and quickly made new friends and arranged to meet up in between scheduled events.

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