Loneliness: the importance of connection
A recent survey of the Australian population indicated that 1 in 4 Australians feel lonely, and that lonely Australians had significantly worse mental and physical health status. Connection with others matters! Psychologists have long been interested in loneliness and have found that connection with others increases self-esteem, feelings of belonging, and a sense of meaning.
Below are a few tips on how to connect with others if you are noticing signs of loneliness in your life.
- Body cues – when we feel lonely, we can begin to act out those feelings using body cues that also push others away. Common body cues of loneliness are avoiding eye contact, leaving situations without saying goodbye, and turning away from others physically. This can make it more difficult to connect with another person. Being aware of these cues can help you begin to orient your body towards others, rather than away.
- Have an offline presence – people who are lonely can find it easier to connect with others online, but research suggests that this can also cause feelings of disconnection. Perhaps organise an offline, face-to-face meeting with your online friends and grow a deeper relationship with them in person.
- Join in – look out for opportunities to join or participate in activities. When you are already feeling lonely, it can be easy to withdraw or decline invitations to events. This can backfire and reinforce your loneliness. Challenging yourself by becoming actively and intentionally involved. This can counteract your loneliness even though taking the first step may be really difficult.
There are a number of reasons why people may be feeling lonely and psychologists are trained to assisting people to build more meaningful relationships and connect with others, to help you create a meaningful life. If you feel you may need assistance, the team at the Centre for Effective Living can support you in making meaningful changes.
Sophie Antognelli (M Psych (Clinical), B Psych (Hons – First Class) is passionate about working alongside individuals and families to live more full lives, overcoming difficulties they may face. Sophie’s interests are in child and adolescent mental health are emotion regulation issues and anxiety. Sophie is interested in working with her adult clients to regain quality of life through early psychosis intervention, the management of symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as the broader clinical issues of perfectionism, adjustment to life stressors and low self-esteem. She developed these interests across her work in both inpatient and outpatient hospital settings. Alongside her clinical work, Sophie is also involved in a number of research projects exploring new approaches to anxiety disorders – with specific interests in investigating potential new avenues for addressing unhelpful thought patterns in health anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and hoarding disorder.