Hello again one and all,
I'm sat here at home with my laptop on my knee and feeling pretty content in my own company at the moment, but that's not always the case for those around us and I thought now was as good a time as any to discuss and explore the idea of loneliness.
Loneliness Awareness Week was launched back in 2017 by The Marmalade Trust, with this year's theme being "Reduce the stigma around loneliness". I've left this blog a bit late given we're most of the way through Loneliness Awareness Week - but let's go with it's a case of "it's better late than never".
What comes to mind when you think of loneliness? A person sat alone? Someone missing the closeness of human contact? I think loneliness can take many forms. You can even feel lonely when you're surrounded by people and that's something I've had people describe to me before and that came as a surprise the first time I heard it because I never considered you could be with people but still lonely and my view on what loneliness could look like has changed in the last couple of years.
Loneliness can become all consuming, like a deep hole it's difficult to climb out of. I think it can and should be everyone's task and duty to be the hand someone can reach out to so someone can get out of that "lonely hole"...What could we do to help?
Go and have a cup of tea with a neighbour or invite them over for dinner - a cuppa and a chat can go a long way!
Organise a group lunch at work - get to know your colleagues, their work day might be the only time they get to interact with others.
Could you volunteer in the local community to visit and help the older generation? There's no denying that as we age, we can end up socially isolated, so keeping people involved, keeping people in contact can make the world of difference.
Start a conversation! - When we're out and about, a smile, a nod and a hello might make someone's day and it might start a conversation that could give someone a boost to their happiness levels.
Loneliness is something that is likely to affect us all at some time of our lives, so if we create, foster and nurture those social connections, we can reduce how loneliness affects us and those around us. I know that locally to where I am in Chester, we have some amazing people, groups and communities that inspire and encourage people to get involved, make new connections and I know I've met some fabulous friends from it.
One of the best things you can do to help tackle loneliness with those around you and within your community is to listen and I love this quote from Rachel Naomi Ramen -
"The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…."
Thistle's motto is "Reach Out, Speak Up and Share" and this can be applied to combating loneliness in all its forms. Reach Out to an old friend by text, have a chat on the phone, organise to get together for tea and cake or some lunch. Speak Up if you're feeling lonely, it is not shameful to be lonely and you haven't done anything wrong if you are feeling that way. Look at the connections you can make if you can. Share your time and your kindness with others and let's overcome loneliness.
Take care of yourselves and until next time - #ReachOutSpeakUpShare