It’s Sunday afternoon, and you are relaxing after a busy weekend of a family BBQ, drinks with your bestie and a movie date with your partner. Though something doesn’t feel quite right, you have an odd sense of feeling lonely. But that can’t be right, can it? An active social life, a job and a big family should mean that you’re never lonely. Right?
Many people who lead active and social lives can often feel lonely and isolated. It is much more common than you might think. Alone and lonely sound similar but have very different meanings. You can be on your own and very content. You can also be lonely, surrounded by people. The critical difference is the sense of connection with other people and the expectations of a relationship.
It is the quality rather than the number of relationships that affects loneliness and impacts mental health.
One of the reasons people might feel lonely is that they are not connecting to others on a deeper, emotional level. When you are connected emotionally, you feel safe to be yourself. Often a relationship that lacks closeness can leave a person feeling disconnected and unfulfilled, leading to a sense of isolation and loneliness.
Virtual communication is another reason for the increase in loneliness; people spend more time communicating online than in person. Our disconnection from face-to-face interaction has been made worse by the covid-19 pandemic, forcing us to move much of our work, education, and socialising into the virtual world. Research has shown that loneliness is pervasive in societies where social media use is highest, with adolescents being the demographic most affected.
When you are feeling isolated or lonely, you might think that it will never get better. Or, maybe you think you shouldn’t be feeling like this.
But what you are feeling is normal and not at all uncommon. Loneliness affects so many people in many different ways.
The most important thing to know is that there is support available if and when you need it.
And if you would like someone to talk to, our wonderful volunteers at FriendLine are here and ready for a chat.
Loneliness affects people of all walks of life, and Friends for Good is here for you.
By Rachel Durrant