Loneliness Awareness Week takes place from 14 – 18 June. Hosted by Marmalade Trust, it’s a campaign to raise awareness of loneliness.
Loneliness is something you might struggle with as a carer because it can be hard to find time to socialise outside of the commitments of caring.
We all get lonely. That is a fact. This is the theme of this year’s loneliness awareness week. Loneliness is a natural human emotion. We’re biologically wired for social contact, and loneliness is our signal that we need more.
So instead of blaming yourself, view loneliness not as a condition but as an experience. In this way, it doesn’t define us. It also starts rephrasing it in a way that is not fatalistic. Instead it brings loneliness back to being simply a sign that your social needs are not being met.
Saying how you feel
A first step can be to say how you are feeling. If you don’t feel comfortable saying you are lonely, try saying something like ‘I am not seeing enough people’. It can also help you feel that you are taking control of the situation and are doing something about it. Don’t feel embarrassed, you are not alone. This can also help you take practical steps to feeling more connected.
If you want someone to talk about feeling lonely you can join our regular virtual cafes with other carers who may be experiencing the same thing or call us on 0800 181 4118 to find out about our Talk & Support service and other befriending services.
Using weak ties
We can often think to feel connected it’s the close friends and family that are needed, but just as valuable can be the chitchat we have every day. From opening the door for someone to chatting at the till. Just seeing others and having conversations has been scientifically proven to help with loneliness.
As an extension of this, the more clubs, associations or teams a person belongs to: i.e. sports teams, local choir groups or book clubs, the more they feel a sense of security and meaning.
Giving to others
Being involved in something like a community project or volunteering can give a person a sense of belonging and makes them feel that their contribution is valued. It can remind you that you are part of something bigger than just yourself and the person you care for.
We all like to feel useful and part of something. Volunteering doesn’t have to mean using up lots of time, it could mean sharing your story of being a carer with us at Carer Support Wiltshire or spending time talking to likeminded people. Volunteer opportunities with CSW are listed here, but there are many organisations that welcome volunteers and often provide useful training too.
Using social media positively
Social media can be used for connecting but it can also make us feel lonelier. Some tips for using social media positively might be to use it proactively. For instance, make a point of following groups/communities you want to join. Commenting or conversing can give you a much bigger sense of connection whereas meaningless scrolling can make you feel worse.
Always remember that you cannot compare how you are feeling with the pictures or comments other people share.
If you need support or are struggling with loneliness you can call us on 0800 181 4118 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.