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  • Writer's pictureTrish Beauchamp

The loneliness epidemic – are we becoming a detached global community?

Updated: May 12




Nearly 1 in 4 adults worldwide are lonely according to a 2023 Meta Gallup survey taken across 142 countries. The survey highlighted how loneliness and social isolation can seriously impact our physical and mental health and the well-being of our communities and society. 

What can define being lonely?
- Loneliness is grieving the loss of someone or missing the companionship of a pet. - Loneliness is experienced when feeling isolated due to language or cultural differences. - Loneliness happens when a significant relationship falters over a difference in opinion, values, religious or political views.

- Loneliness can be the discomfort of attempting to act like others to fit in.

- Loneliness is felt when we are struggling with mental/physical/emotional health and think that no one sees us.

- Loneliness is living with someone you love and are no longer knowing their love.
- Loneliness is scrolling aimlessly on our phones to fill the emptiness and lack of social connection.
Seasonal weather patterns and public holidays can trigger loneliness. Often people feel more lonely during the winter months when weather conditions diminish shared activities. Some people dread significant days of the year when interaction with family and friends is promoted as normal.
When we feel isolated or disconnected from others the feelings of loneliness can negatively influence our thoughts. If we recognise this is happening we can ask ourselves why we may be feeling lonely and what we can do to change that feeling. 
Loneliness can be overcome but requires a conscious effort to change thought patterns about being alone. The impact of feeling lonely can be lessened with positive social connections and enjoyable activities. It may mean creating new ways of interacting with your world. We create space to invite new relationships and life experiences when we think and feel differently about a situation where we are feeling lonely. Understanding why you feel lonely can minimise your loneliness.

Esther Peral, a relationship therapist, encourages people to view new and unfamiliar situations with curiosity. Being curious may mean meeting new people, learning a new skill, or going to a place you’ve never been. Curiosity may feel uncomfortable at times. Knowing that being alone is not the same as being lonely is important. Solitude can be refreshing and energising and for many people ‘alone time’ is an essential part of their self-care routine. To be comfortable in your own company and not feel lonely is a healthy state of mind.

Our collective experience of the COVID-19 pandemic initiated more research on the effects of social isolation and loneliness on one’s well-being and ways to support those struggling to create social connections. The WHO Commission on Social Connection (2024 – 2026) addresses the impact of loneliness, for all ages and cultures.
"No Man Is an Island" (a sonnet by John Donne)  asserts that human beings are connected, and how important that connection is for the well-being and survival of any individual.

Loneliness can happen to anyone. It can feel isolating and depressing but there are many ways to create connection with others, starting with feeling more connected with yourself.  

Loneliness is becoming a global epidemic - consider how you can help yourself or help others feel less lonely today.
Trish

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