Loneliness is one of the most complex human emotions and can be very painful to feel. Loneliness is not just merely being alone, it is a feeling and awareness of being disconnected from people around you. Some people describe the experience of loneliness as “being invisible while the world goes by around you”, “I feel like screaming but no one hears me”, or “intense longing to be seen, understood and connected”.
Experience of Loneliness
Although loneliness can make it seem like you are the only person who feels lonely, nearly everyone feels lonely at times. For some people, loneliness is a transient feeling and experience. For others, loneliness is experienced during major changes in their lives, such as moving away, losing a loved one, a relationship break up, becoming a new parent or retiring.
For some people, loneliness can also feel like a chronic disconnection from others around them. Although loneliness can be such an isolating feeling, it is a universal experience and part of being human. As social beings, we have an innate need to be connected to others. Loneliness can be a signal that our need for meaningful connection is not being met adequately.
Epidemic of Loneliness
Ros Knight, the president of the Australian Psychological Society, has described loneliness as a ‘psychological epidemic’ and one that is quickly becoming a public health issue. Our society continually becomes more anonymous and disconnected. Participation in community activities has reduced and we live in a society where we do not know the names of our neighbours.
The Australian Psychological Societ and Swinburne University recently conducted a survey exploring the level of loneliness experienced by Australians and the effects on their health and wellbeing and produced the Australian Loneliness Report. This report shows that:
Tips to Gently Cope with Loneliness
If loneliness is something you have been struggling with, there are some first steps you can take to help you cope:
Loneliness Related Resources
Australian Psychological Society, Swinburne University. Australian Loneliness report: A survey exploring the loneliness levels of Australians and the impact on their health and wellbeing, 2018
Australian Psychological Society. New Australian research reveals health toll of increasing loneliness, 2018