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.
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.