Loneliness can affect everyone – it doesn’t discriminate based on age or status. In fact, a report in The Independent shows that up to 30% of the UK population have felt or feel chronically lonely.

Furthermore, one in ten individuals feels that they lack the comfort of having a friend to confide in and one in five individuals feel unloved.

However one of the biggest issues is getting someone to admit they are lonely or struggling on their own. Therefore it is important as friends and family, to look out for them and be able to spot the signs.

Some common signs of loneliness….

Time alone

Although it sounds obvious, it’s not only you start thinking about it more in detail that it can start to make sense. If you have a work colleague for instance who always takes lunch alone, sits by themselves at other break times and doesn’t initiate much conversation, it could be because they feel uncomfortable and unsure how to fit in.  There are some individuals who do enjoy their own company and it is a good idea to be mindful of that also. However, 42% of individuals at work felt like they didn’t have any friends.

Older people in our lives and communities also spend a lot of time on their own, especially any that have had to isolate themselves due to the pandemic, and it is easy to stop speaking to people at all.

Negative thinking

People who are lonely often can have very negative thoughts and are more likely to become annoyed by small things and will often bring up bad experiences regularly. This could be because they don’t have anyone close often enough to laugh about things with, so instead, they fester about it and a small negative can become large and a big part of their daily thinking. You may also find that if you do speak to a person who might be displaying signs of loneliness, they might not be as happy as you would expect if you have any good news to share –  but please do not take this personally or get angry with them over it and instead think about how you can help.

Attatched to material things

You may find that those suffering from loneliness might turn to retail therapy as a way to help them – giving them something to look forward to perhaps? They may end up spending a lot of money on things they don’t really need or have things replaced that really do not need to be replaced, for example, a new car or kitchen after only a few years with no real need behind it. It could be that they are missing the excitement or general communication/interaction with tradespeople, other people in general.

You may also find that those suffering from loneliness have a busy schedule, maybe doing lots of solo travelling to dedicating hours to their passions – trains, collecting stamps etc. If possible, try and spend more time with these individuals without their passions or material objects being involved and see if you can break through to them as a person again.

Everyone's experience is different

Loneliness is hard and different for everyone – remember there are some individuals that genuinely do just enjoy their own space and company, and that is perfectly fine!

However if you do notice some worrying signs of loneliness, please contact their friends and family for further support, reach out to the individual and if you are really concerned for their mental wellbeing, get some further medical support.

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