Loneliness affects millions of people in the UK every year and is a key driver of poor mental health. The Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health in the Pandemic research found that loneliness has been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. The Foundation has been tracking loneliness levels in the UK during the pandemic and found the experience has been much higher with devastating impact. Loneliness has been an important factor contributing to higher levels of distress, resulting from people’s sense of isolation and reduced ability to connect with others. Further polling also found that loneliness was one of the leading issues that the public felt needed to be addressed.
The week will raise awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing and the practical steps we can take to address it. Reducing loneliness is a major step towards a mentally healthy society.
In today’s world where many of us are working more and more from home, we may forget our basic human need for social connection. That which came easily to us in an office environment, we may now need to proactively develop new routines.
Humans are inherently social creatures; we are biologically, cognitively, physically and spiritually wired to belong. From an evolutionary perspective we were built to compete but also to collaborate within our tribes.
Some of us need greater connection than others. We may change over time, but at our core we may find we are greater.
To see which you are try a questionnaire, such as this one.
Even the most introverted among us will benefit (happiness wise) from three more social interactions a week (according to researcher Sonja Lyubomirski).
There is benefit from looking at both areas of connection
Developing close relationships
More small talk with strangers
Be the first to smile or to pay a compliment (with a question at the end). If they don’t engage it has nothing to do with you.
Studies show more day-to-day interactions with other people—even sharing a quick smile with a stranger in a coffee shop—associated with greater feelings of belonging and subjective wellbeing.
Engaging with strangers and acquaintances – the brief, micro interactions we all have on a daily basis – can have amazing benefits as well, with reduced rates of depression.” (Sharp, UT Sydney).
“Theory of weak ties”, people who have many acquaintances beyond their close networks tend to be happier than those with smaller networks. (Granovetter, 1973).
This is an area we can all build competence in and are constantly trying to seek the right balance…
Remember also there is a difference between loneliness and solitude. Being happy with our own company is also a skill to develop!
The Healthy Work Company provides workshops and ‘lunch ‘n learns’ on a number of resilience related topics, including this one.
EC Safety Solutions deliver various First Aid for Mental Health Courses either from our office in Strood, Kent or via our eLearning platform
Contact Steve W on 08001930246 for more info on the courses available