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

Group of friends relaxing on the grass in the summeritme having a good time together

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