Leaving loneliness behind

Love and Loneliness

According to The Campaign To End Loneliness, a registered community interest company in London, 45% of adults feel occasionally, sometimes, or often lonely in England. Equating to twenty-five million people who feel lonely in the UK alone.

Just imagine a world where you had your favourite job, a continuously full bank account, a nice comfy home, you’re the last one on this earth and there is nobody to love and share it all with. Would you really be happy? I mean, maybe if you’ve been cooped up in lockdown with some annoying flatmates, or even just spent too much time with your husband/wife/mother/bestie for a few days, it may seem like peaceful bliss for some time, but really, us humans crave the things that flutter our hearts and bring excitement in our bellies; that thing also known as LOVE! And if you are familiar with the Triangular Theory of Love by psychologist Robert J Sternberg, love cannot be present without three specifics: intimacy, passion, decision/commitment. Components that are not possible without human contact; the physical presence of others and the physical intimacy of touch. Collectively, physical contact has diminished for us all over the last year and more so for people living on their own, for those who don’t/can’t have social bubble networks, and those who are elderly without relatives or friends to even call up for a chat.

So how can we assist each other with building a better sense of togetherness and unity moving forward?

Picture by: Helena Lopes

First of all, let’s look at the health risks of loneliness, to understand a little more about why we need to address it as much as physical health issues.

Health risks of loneliness 

(Quoted with references from The Campaign To End Loneliness)

  • Loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 26% 
  • Loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Loneliness is worse for you than obesity.
  • Loneliness and social isolation are associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke 
  • Loneliness increases the risk of high blood pressure 
  • Loneliness with severe depression is associated with early mortality and loneliness is a risk factor for depression in later life 
  • Loneliness and social isolation put individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia 

 

Paul van de Lange, a professor of Social Psychology in Amsterdam, said that when you feel lonely you mainly need vitamin S (social relations) so you can share your feelings with someone you trust. He also says that chronic loneliness can lead to depression and heart and vascular diseases. ‘’Just like smoking 15 cigarettes a day does.’

Solutions:

Who are Together Co?

Brighton has the highest loneliness statistic rate in the country, based on having the highest internet search for “lonely” in the region.”  (BBC South Today)

A Brighton-based charity called Together Co, previously known as Brighton and Hove Impetus has spent the past twenty years working to build connections within the community, in the hope to close the loneliness gap and support those who in need of someone they can count on. They provide FREE Befriending and Social prescribing services to the Brighton and Hove community, as well as Consultancy for other organisations working to end loneliness nationally.

Befriending is mainly for over 55s or those who are most vulnerable (with chronic or physical health issues) and aims to connect each lonely person with a friend, whether it’s to help them with daily chores, shopping or just be there for a social chat and company. This is a self-referral programme that can be completed online via their website. 

Social Prescribing helps those over 18 years old to build social connections via a GP or self-referral. This service puts people get in touch with options like hobby groups, council grants, and work platforms that can help them move forward in their lives and feel more connected.

Picture from Together Co

You can contact Together Co via their website and phone number: https://togetherco.org.uk/

The BNHC family

The organisation was founded to bring a sense of health and happiness to individuals and the community and we want you to know that although we may not be seeing you in the flesh at present, we are available on social media to virtually interact: (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter) you can give us your thoughts on our classes via Fitgrid or email, volunteer with us and even fundraise for us, to feel more involved. We are here for you, and you can also be here for us! That’s what we call true friendship!

Photography by Luca Sage

If you come to our classes, know some of our teachers, or are just reading this blog, you are part of our BNHC family. Our classes are here to inspire, uplift, and bring confidence to our members. Experienced teachers are here to support /guide you through your physical and emotional challenges. And our blogs and workshops are also part of enhancing your daily experience of life, for the better. 

You can try our dance, yoga, Pilates, qigong and meditation classes. We also offer low-cost community classes and free/donation-based educational talks on a variety of well-being related subjects. Many of our previous talks can be watched on our Youtube Channel. Our next talk is called “The Wisdom of Water” with Clare Osborn, a Blue Health, Sustainability & Wellbeing Coach in Brighton. Clare helps us to understand the healing benefits of spending time around water, and brings our focus on learning to be more sustainably responsible in the world, to feel good.

You can find out more and join our upcoming talks here.

Ways to help yourself and others

  • Talk/inform your GP if you are concerned loneliness is causing your health to decline.
  • Contact Together Co via their self-referral section on their website, to get the companionship and guidance you need to feel more connected.
  • Volunteer for Together Co and become a friend for someone who is feeling lonely, you will also build your own social network at the same time.
  • Check-in with friends or relatives once a week, just by calling to say hi.
  • Don’t wait for your friends or relatives to contact you to meet up, take the lead. It may just be what you both needed.
  • Commit to the same regular exercise or social class once a week and notice how this can make you feel a sense of community.
  • Join some free online webinars or events on a topic you enjoy.
  • Talk to someone you trust about how you feel and what you need. It can help others understand you and help you. 
  • Walk outside in nature (a park, garden or the beach) at least four times a week for half an hour or more, to boost your mood.  
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I hope that by reading this article you found some helpful guidance for you or others who may need some assistance in moving through loneliness and its counter illnesses. 

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Crystal Skinner is a yoga teacher and writer. She is Yoga Alliance certified in Yin, Hatha, Vinyasa, Swing/aerial and myofascial release, meditation, pranayama and Kundalini. She is also a qualified NLP practitioner and journalist. She loves cats, eco-friendly focuses and tea in all forms. Full bio and get in touch with Crystal here.

Featured image (top of page): Picture by Kristina Tripkovic

*Please read our class health & safety waiver before joining a class. Contact us before joining the class with regards to any mobility/medical issues which we can share with your teacher.

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