Loneliness can hit every single demographic. Children are lonelier than ever, which seems crazy in this connected world, older people suffer from loneliness and we talk about that a lot, but there’s a huge sinkhole of men and women who feel loneliness on a daily basis.
We’re at a stage where in terms of opportunity, women have never had it as good as they do now. That can also breed pressure though – we’re all things to all people. For one, we’re the only gender that can give birth and that’s a huge life change whether you have children or not, and that too can also strike a lot of lonely feelings.
“When you’ve been going like the clappers and then stop, you can feel very lonely because you’ve done nothing of real meaning”
As a general umbrella comment, with social media we’re as a nation lonelier than we ever have been. I think when we’re given so much information from social media it can make us feel as though we’re not living up to other people’s expectations of goals and achievements. You can see your friends are out and having a good time and you can really get the FOMO thing. We’re chasing our tail all the time – we want to be a good colleague, friend, partner, mother, but when you’ve been going like the clappers and then stop, you can feel very lonely because you’ve done nothing of real meaning.
As a working mum I am charging about with my son and working and we don’t always give ourselves time to fully enjoy what we’re doing. The minute you stop it can hit you like a wallop in the face because you haven’t had a proper conversation with someone. This is where we need to be careful with social media – we need to turn it off sometimes and sit down with one person and have a proper conversation where we ask how they are and really listen to the answer. We need to connect on a deeper level rather than just having lots of superficial interactions.
“I suffered a lot with PND and I have really had to get that back to basics”
Imposter syndrome is a huge deal for women in particular and we really have to stop that. My son has helped me a lot – I suffered a lot with PND and I have really had to get that back to basics and remember that the only thing that really matters is my happy, healthy family. I am the first person to admit that while some mums manage homemade lunches for their kids, I got mine at the supermarket – I don’t know anyone who will judge me and I am not worried if they do, but I think that only comes from really having to take stock of yourself and really knowing that something has to give; knowing you can’t do it all.
After I had my son I was trying to do it all, I fell back into that trap of people pleasing. At the end of the day though, when it’s just you and your thoughts, that can make for a very lonely place. My advice is to take the pressure back and say no to a few things.
“Say no to a few things”
Have the time to notice things. Conduct a day or a week of your life as if you’re on holiday – maybe tell people you are on holiday when you’re not if you just want to focus on something or sit at home and chill out and not be accountable for everything. It gives a huge sense of empowerment to put a line in things and apply boundaries but people respond very well to them.
Also, find people to talk to and have the right friendships. Sometimes friendships can be seasonal, and become more or less important at different stages in your life. It’s important to find people to talk to who you have something in common with. I am very happy to put my hands up and say I was a mother and baby group snob before I had my son, but I completely misjudged how important it can be to socialise with new people, people who are on the same wavelength. The refreshing new pair of eyes it’s cast on my life has been wonderful and I have really enjoyed nurturing new friendships.
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