Loneliness is more common than you think – Men’s Health Week

Humans are social creatures. We evolved to live in groups (think tribes or small villages) and we lived this way for a very long time. Living in a group provided safety, support, and connection, so it’s no wonder that we find being lonely distressing. The thing is that over the past few hundred years, the size and nature of our ‘groups’ have changed dramatically. Family sizes have dwindled and few of us live in villages where we know and can depend on those around us. More recently, social media connections have replaced real life connections for some of us, and the pandemic has contributed to isolation and social disconnection.

So what exactly is loneliness? Put simply, loneliness is our own personal experience of feeling that there’s a gap between the type of social relationships we want – and the ones we actually have. This means that even though we may have numerous social connections, it’s still possible to feel lonely. On the other hand, some of us can be alone and not feel lonely if we have the social connections we desire.

We know that long term loneliness can increase the risk of negative physical and mental challenges. Some of these include:

  • cardio vascular disease
  • infectious illnesses
  • cognitive decline and dementia
  • high blood pressure
  • depression
  • anxiety

We also know that about 43% of Australian men are experiencing loneliness right now. Feeling lonely is an important signal – it tells us that there are things we might need to change in our lives. Finding ways to connect and build relationships is key to combating loneliness, and there’s no shame in reaching out for help. Remember that you are not alone in feeling lonely!

Visit healthymale.org for more information on ways to connect, or contact a Registered Psychologist at Oak Psychology Space Randwick if you feel that you need professional support.

Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky Unsplash