This coming week 14-18 June is both Men’s Health Week and Loneliness Awareness Week and through the well-known Five Ways to Wellbeing, developed by the New Economics Foundation, we wanted to offer you food for thought on how these can also help tackle loneliness.
This Loneliness Awareness Week the Marmalade Trust are encouraging people to see loneliness as an experience, not a condition, with an emphasis on accepting that we all get lonely sometimes. Through our own thoughts on the Five Ways to Wellbeing we hope you will find the below a practical guide to tackling feelings of isolation and improving wellbeing overall.
This Men’s Health Week the ‘CAN DO Challenge’ is being encouraged through learning about the Five Ways to Wellbeing. Below we have outlined our own interpretation of each point and linked them to tackling the experience of loneliness.
Not only is this the first of the Five Ways to Wellbeing but it is also a fantastic remedy for loneliness. Loneliness is defined as the state of being sad about being alone so by reaching out and connecting with others you can tackle the feeling of isolation that comes with loneliness.
Throughout lockdown many of us have had to socialise digitally through video calls, emails, text messages and phone calls. But perhaps a more meaningful way to connect to others is by being in their physical presence and now that the lockdown restrictions are lifting, it might be time to get out and see people in person again.
You may be feeling nervous about this, many people are. After a year of purely digital connections there may be feelings of anxiety connected to meeting people in person again. But we would encourage you to try and tackle this and build your human connections again.
Perhaps start by meeting one person at a time. An old friend, a family member, someone you know you will feel comfortable with.
There is a well known connection between physical activity and mental wellbeing. Quite simply, exercise can relieve depression and anxiety and in the context of loneliness, joining in a group physical activity not only gets the blood pumping, releasing those all important ‘happy hormones’ such as endorphins and serotonin, but feeling part of something with other people can relieve the experience of loneliness.
It’s a win/win situation for both wellbeing and the feelings of isolation many have struggled with during lockdown. Now group exercise is once again permitted and the weather is getting warmer, why not try an outdoor activity in a group? Being in the great outdoors, as you may know from our last article: Connecting with Nature for Mental Health Awareness Week can be effective in lifting our spirits and improving our mental wellbeing.
This one is about noticing what is happening in the here and now and focusing on being present. Practising mindfulness can help you to do this. By thinking neither about the past nor the future you can foster feelings of peace and calm. Even if it’s just for a few minutes each day.
It is also about noticing what is going on around you. You may go for a walk and notice a group activity happening near where you live, this may inspire you to join in and do something new.
Perhaps there is an arts centre near you, are they opening up again now? If so, and you enjoy getting involved in artistic activities, perhaps stop in and get involved.
By noticing what is happening within our own communities you may find you feel compelled to get involved and this can help you feel connected and less lonely.
Learning something new opens up fresh thoughts and experiences and can give us a sense of development, direction and achievement which can be wonderful for our sense of wellbeing.
Taking it back to loneliness, once again, group classes are back up and running and by learning with others you may feel those feelings of isolation ease.
Our course Introduction to Mindfulness with Self-compassion will be run in a small group and is relevant to, Connect, Learn and Notice. Click the title for more information and to book your place for this introductory session to mindfulness on Monday 21st June 2021.
Giving kindness to others, even simply smiling at a stranger, can give us a greater sense of wellbeing.
Giving our time to a community project or charity can also give us a greater feeling of self worth and the social aspect of giving our time links back to the first of the Five Ways to Wellbeing, Connect, as it gives us the opportunity of connecting with like minded individuals for a good cause.
Going back to the Marmalade Trust’s intention for this coming week, accepting that we feel lonely is the first step in tackling this experience, and reaching out and talking how you feel through with others is the next.
Experiences are fleeting and if you have felt lonely, particularly this past year, feel secure in the knowledge that it won’t last forever, no experience or feeling does. It may sound odd but also remember you are not alone in your loneliness, many people have struggled through lockdown so if you can open up about how you feel you may find others have shared this experience. This in itself can ease the feeling of isolation.