According to research from Carers UK, unpaid carers are seven times more likely to be lonely compared with the general public. Not having enough time, or money, to participate in leisure activities, as well as the stigma of being a carer, means one in three unpaid carers (35 per cent) are always or often lonely, compared with just one in twenty (five per cent) of the general population.
According to Mind, loneliness can be described as “the feeling we get when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships is not met.” Loneliness is not the same as being alone; you may choose to be alone and live happily without much contact with other people or you may have lots of social contact, or be in a relationship or part of a family, and still feel lonely – especially if you don’t feel understood by the people around you. Read more about loneliness and its causes on the Mind website here.
Tips to combat loneliness
We’ve assembled some tips and resources to help manage feelings of loneliness and connect with others.
- Join a group or class based on your interests.
While most face-to-face courses have been cancelled for now, there are plenty of virtual options. Check out our blog ‘Online events for carers’ for some inspiration.
- Volunteering is a great way to meet new people.
Unfortunately as an organisation we have had to suspend volunteer recruitment for now. However you can find information on our Volunteering page on organisations who are still safely recruiting during the COVID-19 outbreak and how you can help.
- Try peer support.
There are many different types of peer support service, which provide people with a space to use their own experiences to help and support each other, including experiences of loneliness. Befriending services put volunteer befrienders in contact with people feeling lonely. Visit Befriending.co.uk for more information and an online directory of UK befriending services.
Online communities can be a great way to connect with people in similar situations. They are available 24/7, most are free and you can access them wherever you are. The Carers UK online forum is a great place to start, but you can generally find a forum for any topic or interest you can think of.
- Try not to compare yourself to others.
Especially in our social media age, it’s easy to look at other people’s highlight reels and assume that they’re always socialising and having fun. It’s important to remind yourself that you don’t know how other people feel when they are alone, or when their social media feeds are turned off.