Combatting Loneliness: Mental Health Awareness Week

By Krista Harris | 9 May 2022
4 Minute Read

May 9th-15th is Mental Health Awareness Week. This year’s theme is loneliness, a key indicator of poor mental health. 

Having times of feeling lonely is a normal part of life, but chronic loneliness is a stressor to the body which can result in poorer physical health. Feeling lonely, the sense of social isolation, is perceived by the body as a threat to safety, and so stress markers go up and immunity and cardiovascular health declines.

Our current society values independence, sometimes to the expense of community. We were always meant to be interconnected as part of a close community. However, with the nature of online connection, travel and work, our connections now span large distances and people no longer grow up and live in the same close-knit communities. 

It is worth noting that physically being alone is not the same as loneliness. Solitude is a healthy behaviour, a time to have time to yourself, however, loneliness is an emotional state. You can experience loneliness whether alone or in a group of people. Because its nature is social isolation, feeling emotionally separated from others, (e.g. feeling shame or being in conflict with others) has the exact same effect. 

Loneliness could be said to be a state of the nervous system. A state activated by the perception of lack of social connection, whether emotionally based, or externally, by the lack of relationship connections you have in your life. 

 

The primary purpose of humanity is connection and so interdependence is a worthy goal of society – to develop a balance in life between independence and dependence. Dependence has been seen as a negative within our society, but dependence brings connection, as the covid pandemic has shown us. It is the dependence of your neighbour needing help with their food shop and you as a neighbour meeting that need by delivering their food to their doorway, that brings connection within a street and, as a result, a community as a greater whole. 

5 Antidotes to the State of Loneliness

  • Connect with yourself by identifying and prioritising your time to doing the things you enjoy. What do you like to learn and read about? What conversation topics do you most enjoy?
  • Focus on developing a sense of safety to counteract stress; eat healthily (plus the foods you most enjoy), go and get body treatments and therapies, prioritise rest, listen to music and films that make you feel good – and avoid watching ‘bad news’ media.
  • Help meet the needs of others; whether this is through a business or volunteering such as visiting or helping out a neighbour. Or if you are the one in need, let others know and ask for help.
  • Spend time in nature and with animals. Spend more time in green spaces connecting with nature.
  • Join a local walking group – walking together with people benefits both physical and emotional health.

Instinct Gym & Wellbeing Sunday group walk.

Take Action:

If you are feeling lonely, or know someone who is, here at Instinct Gym & Wellbeing we have a few ways to help! Our Fuel Coffeehouse & Kitchen is part of the Chatty Cafe scheme on Tuesdays from 10am-12pm for anybody to come along who may be feeling isolated, please join us, simply drop in!

Health Box social prescribers run free sessions at Instinct where you can chat and be creative whilst learning skills to help combat mental health issues. Book your space by contacting social prescriber Lindsay  via 07593 138655 or email Lindsay@healthboxcic.com.

Health Box also host a Wellbeing Walk in Tarporley every Tuesday at 11am-12pm from Brook Road Playing Fields, to join please email Esta@healthboxcic.com or call 07874 855795.

Here are some tips from Enigma Wellness for positive mental health to try and incorporate into your daily life:

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