Loneliness affects more than half of all Australians according to a survey carried out by the Australian Red Cross.
1 in 4 (more than 5 million people) say they feel lonely most of the time*.
It’s easy to brush off loneliness as silly, or not important. However, feeling connected is essential for both our mental and physical health*. Studies have shown that being socially connected lowers the risk of mental health issues, including dementia and depression, and improves physical health.
So, if you are one of the millions of Australians affected by loneliness, what can you do? Loneliness can be felt more strongly at times like Christmas and birthdays, which are normally associated with seeing friends and family, so the lead up to Christmas can be a great time to take some positive steps to combat your loneliness.
You may even want to think of an approach then make it a new year’s resolution for 2021.
First of all, focus on real connection. Time spent in person or by phone with a good friend is found to be more beneficial than time spent with acquaintances or chatting by email or online*.
So why not pick up the phone to a friend and arrange to go for a coffee?
Living alone and not being in a relationship are significant factors for loneliness, with men tending to feel lonelier than women4. Animals can be wonderful companions and they can help reduce stress, make you feel more relaxed and increase social contact. There are a number of cat cafés around Adelaide where you can interact with cats housed on café premises. Some of these are Hashtag Meow Cat Café in Felixstow, Meow
Me Cat Café in Parkside and The Katze of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills.
If you’re more of a dog person, the RSPCA and Animal Welfare League offer volunteer opportunities where you can walk dogs, feed animals, volunteer in their shops, or make enrichment toys.
There are lots of ways to meet new people. Volunteer roles can be a great way to get out and meet others, do something you enjoy and can give you a great sense of purpose. You could also find a local group that do something you’re interested in. Many community centres and libraries offer a whole range of regular activities you can join.
Join the ECH Volunteer Team
The ECH volunteer program prides itself on offering volunteers a diverse variety of roles and activities and is flexible in meeting the needs of its clients and its volunteers, creating opportunities based on the interests of both.
As a volunteer you will have an important role to play in helping to promote self-determination and enabling ECH clients to have the best life possible as they age.
Some of the volunteering activities include involvement in one or more programs and different areas such as art, craft, music, individual visits, social groups, gardening, bus driving, cooking and outings.
For more information please call 1300 275 324 or email Estha Kleinig, Volunteer Lead, email@example.com
Alone at Christmas?
Social pressure can make us feel lonelier at times like Christmas. If you are on your own this Christmas (and don’t want to be), chat to the people around you.
You might find you have friends or neighbours who feel exactly the same and would love to share Christmas with you. If there’s no one to spend the day with, make it a day to really treat yourself. If you are widowed, and your spouse would have normally bought you a gift, why not buy a gift for yourself in their memory? Or just buy yourself a great gift anyway!
Eat your favourite food. Do something you love, and just make it your Christmas celebration to enjoy your way.
Red Cross Australia, www.redcross.org.au/getmedia/40488c5f-7b77-496a-b0ff-9f9b0e1dcb2e/GW-Loneliness-PRIM.pdf.aspx
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/social-isolation-and-loneliness