The uprising of loneliness & how to reconnectSep 29, 2023
The inaugural State of the Nation report into Social Connections reveals almost one in three adult Australians say they are lonely, with one in six reporting severe loneliness.
With two years of restricted social connection across the pandemic, as well as the increase of social media use, many adults are feeling lonelier than ever. This is especially true for young people and middle aged people, with 22% of 18-24 year olds reporting often/always feeling lonely, and 18% of 45-54 year olds saying they often/always feeling lonely.
Loneliness doesn’t take just one form. Some people are feeling physically lonely, and do not believe they have strong connections to lean on. Others are feeling emotionally lonely within their relationships, households and communities, where there is an emotional disconnect of understanding and connection.
If you are feeling lonely, here are a few ways you can reconnect:
1. Get involved with a community
Community is defined by the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common. When you are involved in a community that makes you feel seen, understood and valued, this sense of belonging has a significant, positive impact on your mental health.
How to start:
- Write down a list of your interests or activities you want to take part in. This could be anything from cold water swimming, running, painting, singing, meditating, reading, gardening or hiking.
- Now use google search, instagram or meetup.com to search for like-minded groups of people. Remember, the first step is putting yourself out there!
- Once you’ve found a group that resonates with you, continuously show up and become a familiar face. Connections take time and investment, so be present and actively engage in conversation.
*Bonus: When taking part of a fitness group such as a run club, you enhance the ability to connect through the release of good feeling hormones when you exercise.
2. Rekindle an old friendship
Sometimes it’s our own ego preventing us from reconnecting with old friends. Reflect on past relationships and think about which connections uplifted you! Write down a few names, then open up communication again. You could start with a simple text, such as ‘Hey, how have you been?’ or give them a call.
3. Take a class
Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? A new language, the guitar, or maybe you want to take a pottery class? Do some research and find out what classes are near you. Learning in a group environment is a powerful way to make new connections as it cultivates presence, playfulness and fun.
When you volunteer for a cause you care about, you not only take the focus away from yourself, you also feel a heightened sense of purpose and meaning, which can make you far more open to meeting new people.
If you struggle with social anxiety or feel overwhelmed and nervous when meeting new people, consider doing a short meditation before engaging in social activities. This will help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and help you go into new environments feeling grounded and open to receiving.
Social connection and feeling a part of something bigger than yourself, is one of, if not the most powerful way to boost your mental health. Keep in mind, when making new friends it can sometimes take time, the key is to be open to everyone. The more you give out, the more you get. So go into it with love, compassion and empathy for others and for yourself.