Loneliness NZ


Share on …

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Connected and still feeling lonely

When people generally talk about preventing loneliness, they often consider two helpful ways are keeping in touch, and reaching out to your supports.  Feeling socially connected (and not socially isolated) are important for our wellbeing, and sometimes essential for our safety.  

Sometimes though being connected is not in itself enough to prevent loneliness.  Some of our loneliest people live with a large family, with a long-term partner, with their soul-mate. Some have regular visits from a well-known carer, have wide circles of friends….have team-mates in their sports groups, and have plenty of people to connect with in their social media worlds. And they can still feel a deep loneliness.

Loneliness is complex; so there are several other possibilities – sometimes in combination with another – to consider when thinking about preventing loneliness:

Your external environment has some barrier preventing you seeing the faces, and having touch, with the people most dear to you.

Examples

  • being physically isolated (from COVID-19 restrictions, being in hospital or being in prison);
  • living rurally and transport is an issue.
  • borders closed so travel is restricted.
  • Broad band signal does not work well in your area.

You have personal barriers where you may physically get to see and touch people dear to you, but you aren’t able to communicate in the way you would like to.

Examples

  • disability, such as becoming increasingly deaf and so you cannot differentiate foreground and background noise without a hearing aid
  • cognitive decline, you know something is wrong because none of the conversations flow like they did in the past.
  • feeling distressed constantly, so you withdraw and stop communicating.

Your life situation has changed dramatically, and so you don’t fit in the same as you used to.

Examples

  • you lost your job and now you don’t have any contact with a huge number of people previously in your life.
  • you used to be a couple, and now that you are on your own, you feel uncomfortable around your married friends.
  • you moved away from your family, and your life changed while theirs stayed the same.

Those physically close to you might be subconsciously influencing your feelings. The ripple effect of other people feeling depressed, anxious or lonely can affect our own feelings of loneliness.

Examples

  • your flat-mate’s mopes around means that you are not chatting as normal so you are alone for more times than usual.
  • your partner’s grief starts causing you to feel distress because you are no longer sharing happiness.
  • the mood at work is so low, that you feel as though you have no energy anymore.
You are not resilient being alone. Solitude does not come naturally to you, and so being on your own becomes challenging.

Examples

  • You get distressed waiting for a call from your family, instead of getting absorbed in an activity;
  • Your head becomes so filled with your own thoughts you become overwhelmed.
  • You are so used to having your children around, and now they’ve gone you’re at a complete loss.

You feel that the reality of some or all your relationships is no longer the same as your expectations; your conversations are no longer meaningful.

Examples

  • You feel that people who were your friends, are no longer your friends.
  • You used to love being around your partner, but over time the shine has gone.
  • Your self-confidence and trust in people has eroded.

Just as there is no one cause of loneliness, there is no one solution to fix loneliness. Your unique situation is what brings you to feel lonely, so evaluating your own situation in your context is important.

We’re adding articles to help you understand various aspects of preventing loneliness. If you need further help, consider using a Loneliness NZ mentor to guide you in what steps you can take to help yourself become less lonely.

Self-help resources