Loneliness The Lone Journey Forward Audio Version
Loneliness The Lone Journey Forward
Words by Montanna Macdonald
The term loneliness is quite often thrown around in daily thought; we have all been there.
Sometimes you find yourself in a moment of reflection, maybe between your busy schedule or no schedule at all, wishing you had a background ambience, someone to talk to. You may find yourself using a quick fix by turning on the T.V, writing in your journal, playing a podcast or phoning a friend.
These are all coping strategies we use when we feel alone, but it’s important to point out the difference between feeling alone and loneliness.
Many people enjoy their own company, and moments of solitude can be an important part of our routine. But a disconnection from others and a lack of positive social interaction can have disastrous consequences.
Loneliness is a normal occurrence that can happen for anyone, but it is more than just turning on some background noise, and you’ll be fine. Loneliness is a mental and physical state that new research shows can lead to concerning health risks.
Psychology and Neuroscience Professor at Brigham Young University, Julianne Holt-Lunstad believes we are facing a “loneliness epidemic”.
Holt-Lunstad academic journal “Advancing social connection as a public health priority in the United States”, provides research indicating that isolation and feeling alone links to an increased risk of premature mortality and a range of disease morbidities.
Mental illness, as a result of isolation, such as depression, is not a surprising factor of loneliness. Still, the fact that being alone can result in mortality risk is a significant concern.
Individuals relationships and social interactions should be a crucial indicator of determining one’s state of health and wellbeing. Yet loneliness is often looked over, and not spoken about.
Holt-Lunstads research journal states that the health care system has been “slow to recognise human social relationships as either a health determinant or health risk marker in a manner that is comparable to that of other public health priorities”.
According to Lifeline, there are common causes of feeling lonely and isolated, such as losing a loved one, lack of close family ties, fear of rejection and lack of purpose or meaning in life. Furthermore, loneliness can result in sleeping problems, lack of energy, diet problems, mental and physical health risks and increased vulnerability to substance use.
Loneliness spans across all ages of life, but more commonly found in young adults aged 15-25, and elderly aged 75 and above.
In 2015, a Vic Health survey found that one in eight young people ages 16-25 reported a very high intensity of loneliness.
Manager of Mental Wellbeing at VicHealth Irene Verins, states “the most effective way to reduce loneliness is to make people feel connected to their community”.
You must have a support system in place, a tribe of people, to help you combat loneliness.
If someone you know comes to you in person or online and shows signs of feeling alone, don’t overlook this comment. Make sure you ask if they are OK, and make yourself available for support if you are comfortable to do so, or suggest they connect with family, friends or their doctor.
And, if you are the one feeling alone, do NOT shy away from reaching out. Sometimes even the most successful, busy and happy people are the most alone. You never know, the person you may reach out to may be feeling the same way as you.
There are a range of free tools and online programs Vic Health recommend for those who wish to help someone who shows signs of loneliness.
If there is any way a part I can play in helping tackle loneliness, here is a list of great podcasts to help cope with moments of solitude.
Hope you have a wonderful day, and hey, after you read this, start up a conversation with someone nearby, send a text, phone a friend you have been meaning to talk to.