One in four adults feel lonely some or all of the time. There’s no single cause and there’s no one solution. After all, we’re all different! But, the longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems. Some people are also at higher risk of feeling lonely than others.
So says the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) on its Mental Health Awareness Week website.
As owner, manager, chief electrical engineer, trainer, mentor, business developer and head bottle-washer; life is pretty busy. But, doing it totally on my own, like so many SME owner managers, it’s not just busy, but it’s lonely.
Before taking you through my own 3 Best Ways to Beat Isolation, let me first share 3 ways to help other sufferers as published by the MHF:
How to support other people who are feeling lonely
1. Don’t judge or stigmatise – embrace
It’s important not to judge or stigmatise people who feel lonely. Stigma around loneliness is a huge barrier to the kind of open and genuine conversations that can help. It’s more important to be aware of just how common loneliness is. It’s a normal feeling that all of us are likely to experience at some time in our lives. Telling other people that their poor mental health is the reason why they are feeling lonely is really not helpful.
2. Try to make groups welcoming to other people
It can be difficult for people who are feeling lonely to join a group like a club. This might be because people are shy or feel nervous about existing relationships in the group which they don’t feel part of. It’s important to be aware of this and try to make groups be as welcoming as possible to newcomers. Flexibility around things like how often people attend is also important.
3. Try to listen and show understanding
A great way to help a friend, colleague or family member is simply to listen. People who have experienced loneliness relate how they valued friends who really considered what they might enjoy and were even willing to join them in some shared activities. Having an understanding and compassionate approach, and not ignoring the person’s experience, will help them to feel heard and understood.