Loneliness is very common in Australia. It’s estimated that three out of 10 of us experience it as a serious problem at one time in our lives.

While loneliness is much more than a Saturday night spent alone reading a book, it does also vary from person to person. For some people, solitude is a way of life that suits them, whereas for others it’s a negative experience.

A common definition of loneliness is: a much deeper, long-lasting feeling of disconnection from the relationships a person desires to have. The highest risk of it occurring is when you experience: low income, being a lone carer, mental illness, physical disability and discrimination.

Widespread impact

Loneliness is a concern, not just for the quality of your life, but also due to increased health risks. The health risks that increase due to loneliness include:

  • Heart disease
  • Aches, pain, headaches
  • Poor sleep
  • Mental illness such as depression
  • Potential suicide risk
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Nutritional problems

What to do?

Fortunately, loneliness can be overcome. The following advice is recommended, including:

  • Connect or re-connect with family and friends (either in person or via the phone or internet)
  • Get out and about – exercise, shopping, social functions
  • Get involved in your community – join a club, enrol in study, learn a new skill
  • Volunteer – helping others can make you feel more connected
  • Get a pet
  • Get support – if loneliness is causing you negative feelings, go see your GP or counsellor for help.

For more information, visit www.reachout.com. For help, contact Lifeline www.lifeline.org.au 131 114

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