Loneliness is an often misunderstood concept. It is usually associated with physical isolation. We picture people confined in their homes by illness or age. Certainly, this picture is not inaccurate. However, it is also not inclusive.
Loneliness is a profound feeling of sadness because of being alone. But, what does alone mean? Being physically alone is easy to observe. There is a lack of physical interaction with others. However, emotional isolation is the hidden monster that plagues millions. This could manifest in a child who believes they have no friends. It could be an adult who is shy and ignored in a large workspace. It could be the parent on the school run who stands alone desperate for someone to talk to them. It can also be the older person who goes all day without talking to anyone. However it shows up, we know that it has a significant impact on both mental and physical health.
In the workplace, many are only beginning to meet people in the teams they have been working in for the past 2 years. They are struggling to find a sense of belonging that is critical for workplace wellbeing. Others have always felt marginalised and coming back to the office has exacerbated their feelings of isolation.
The manifestation of loneliness is about the perceived lack of human connection. For some, interaction with others is limited which leads to the feeling. This happened a lot during the past 2 years as restrictions on interaction made isolation a way of life. For others, interaction does not equate to connection. Many depressed people report that they could be in a room full of family and still feel absolutely isolated and alone because they do not feel connected to, or seen by anyone in the room.
Persistent loneliness is an unexpected repercussion of the pandemic leaving millions of people suffering from poor mental health as a result. It is no wonder that Mental Health Awareness Week has made loneliness the official theme. If we can find ways to connect or even reconnect with other people, we can significantly improve the mental health and wellbeing of so many.
If you would like to host a session on how to improve the lives of those suffering from loneliness in your organisation, please see link here or details below and get in touch.