Loneliness shouldn’t be a stigma
Loneliness is a killer. Recent studies show that it has similar effects on our health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. That’s a lot of cigarettes for a non-smoker.
Like Covid-19 and its variants, loneliness doesn’t discriminate. It affects the old and the young, the wealthy and the poor, those who live alone or in community. It goes beyond gender, race, sexual orientation and it doesn’t stop at those with a disability.
Most of us have experienced loneliness in one way or another over the past year (because of the pandemic). And there are many ways to be lonely. In its crude form, it’s the absence of a human (physical) connection. But it can also happen when most of one’s friends are in stable relationships, and they start to kind of forget about their “single friend”.
It can happen when you are with your crew at a party (remember those days?) but you don’t feel connected to them at that moment.
Loneliness is also when you have a deep secret that you can’t share with your community. It can be anything from mental health, gender or sexual orientation to questions about your faith or a recent traumatic experience. You can feel lonely to the point of isolation because of fear of rejection.
A new layer comes into play when you can’t share how you feel because it’s “not cool” to be lonely. This brings stigma and shame, a heavy burden to carry all alone. But there’s nothing to be ashamed of being lonely. Loneliness is something almost everyone has felt or dealt with, but we don’t think that is the case because people don’t often talk about it.
Let’s speak up and break the stigma! Loneliness impacts our mind and body, and here are a few ways I dealt with the lonely days that crossed my path over the past year:
1. Be kind to yourself. Just because you are lonely doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. Look after yourself and your wellbeing. You might be going through a tough time, accept that is difficult but also don’t beat yourself up. It will do no one any good, especially yourself.
2. Be grateful. What helped me to keep my head above water through the first UK lockdown was a gratefulness journal. This helped me to…