Loneliness Awareness Week will take 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 Cuppas with other carers who may be experiencing the same thing and our Carer Advisers can put you in touch with organisations that run 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 belonged to: i.e. sports teams, local choir groups or book clubs, the more they feel a sense of security and meaning. To find a group that fits you, have a look on the what’s on section of our website or get in touch with us by calling 0800 368 8349.
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. If you want to get involved in some volunteering you can see what is available locally online. 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 Dorset or spending time talking to likeminded people.
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 meaning-less scrolling can make you feel worse.
Always remember that you cannot compare how you are feeling with the pictures or comments other people share.