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Loneliness Awareness Week will take place from 14 to 18 June. The awareness week is hosted by Marmalade Trust who are a loneliness charity whose goal is to build greater awareness and acceptance of loneliness. The purpose of the awareness week is to get people talking to help ourselves and others manage the feeling of loneliness.

What is loneliness?

The definition of loneliness is ‘a perceived mismatch between the quality and quantity of social connections that a person has and what they would like to have’.

There are different types of loneliness which are described by the Marmalade Trust and they include:

  • Emotional loneliness – when someone you were very close with is no longer there.
  • Social loneliness – when you feel like you’re lacking a wider social network.
  • Transient loneliness – a feeling that comes and goes.
  • Situational loneliness – loneliness that you feel only at certain times like special holidays.
  • Chronic loneliness – when you feel lonely all or most of the time.

Most of us will experience loneliness at some point in our lives and it is important to note that it can affect all age groups.

There are a number of key factors that can increase the likelihood of feeling lonely, including; a relationship break-up, bereavement and retirement.

Long-term loneliness can effect our mental and physical health and has been linked to early deaths and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, cognitive decline and poor sleep. It has also been found that people who feel lonely are more than twice as likely to develop dementia.

How can we combat loneliness?

Combatting loneliness has always been important but more so in a year where most have been isolated at home, sometimes on their own, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Loneliness exists and the shame and stigma surrounding it needs to be removed. The best way to do that is to talk and Marmalade use the hashtag #LetsTalkLoneliness to encourage people to talk and discuss the impact it has on our wellbeing.

Although loneliness can effect people of all ages, it is important to provide extra thought to the elderly and those experiencing big life changes.

To help you and others feel less lonely, Marmalade advise taking the following steps –

  • Acknowledge loneliness in yourself and others – it is a normal human emotion and there are key moments/events in an individual’s life where loneliness will be increased.
  • Identify what you or they need – reach out to someone for support and advice.
  • Take the appropriate action – build up your daily community.

Check out this list of useful resources from Mind if you need help combatting loneliness.