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13 Feb 2015
Loneliness; a modern phenomenon?
Being lonely used to be something that mainly affected the elderly, but in recent years it is an affliction hitting those much much younger. It does not necessarily mean that you are alone; people in bad relationships can be just as isolated and lonely as those without partners, families and friends.
As social animals most of us want to have intimate relationships and when we do not, be it due to a break up or bereavement we feel adrift in our lives. Despite the talk of social networking our current work and home lives are actually making it more difficult to meet new people and find fulfilling relationships.
Many of us will not know our neighbours, and many voluntary organisations, sports clubs and groups have seen a significant decline in memberships over the last decade. Also families are often spread out across the country or even the world meaning what would be a natural support network is fragmented, equally we often travel long distances to work and so colleagues that could perhaps become friends stay as work friends due to locality. In addition society is more driven towards materialism and as a result we are often time poor and so the quality of our relationships is also reducing.
Studies are now beginning to crop up in regards to the potential negative impact on health that a lack of good quality relationships can have and the results are quite surprising, in fact possible risks are obesity, high blood pressure, habits like smoking, impaired immune systems, higher risk of cancer, lack of quality sleep and poor mental health including depression.
Whilst this all sounds doom and gloom; there are practical steps that everyone can take to get more connected. Many of which are delightfully low tech and dare I say even old fashioned:
Try joining groups in things that interest you, this can be anything from knitting to creative writing, from wine tasting to amateur dramatics. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it captivates you, the chances are you will find like- minded people that you can bond with over time.
Volunteering can have a double impact; firstly doing something virtuous makes you feel good about yourself which helps to aid your confidence and boosts your self-esteem. Secondly you are likely to meet some nice people along the way from all walks of life that can broaden your horizons. Try to pick a charity or organisation that has real meaning for you.
Spring Clean Your Friendships:
This may seem ruthless advice, but take a long hard look at your existing friendships. Do you have things in common? Do you both give and get something back from being in the relationship – if not, do not be afraid to start pairing back on one so that you have more time to dedicate to people in your life who really mean something to you.
Carry out a checklist of how you are using the internet. If you are spending too much time talking to people you don’t actually know and will never meet or form a person to person relationship with, then try and cut back and turn the media into a platform that works for you: to help your find clubs and activities in your area and so on.
Last but by no means least stay open to the possibilities, each of us carries a certain amount of life baggage with us but try not to let that get in the way of new opportunities. Pass the time of day with your neighbours and people you meet as you go about your day, in the library, in the local coffee shop… Say yes to any invitations that come your way and make everyone aware of the fact that your open to introductions. But do stay safe in person and on-line.Tweet