Mental Health Awareness Week 2022
The theme for Mental Health Awareness week is 2022 is Loneliness – something that effects millions of people each year and that we now know can have a significant detrimental impact on our mental health.
One of the reasons the Mental Health Foundation has chosen Loneliness as this year’s theme is because the pandemic brought us all a little bit closer to experiencing loneliness. As we now head out of the pandemic and the social isolation restrictions that were placed on us all, we have the opportunity to look at what we can do to limit loneliness as we move forward.
Being part of a team here at Inspired To Change has made a huge difference to our connection levels and, therefore our oxytocin levels during the pandemic, but that doesn’t make us immune to the impact the Covid pandemic has had on our other social interactions and feelings of isolation or loneliness. So, we’ve been connecting and chatting about what we have all been doing to start that process of rebuilding our social lives now that the restrictions have lifted.
We all found each other’s insights so valuable, that we wanted to share them with you!
“I’ve had to be really intentional about re-engaging with social activities, reminding myself how essential it is and what the specific benefits are, in order to overcome the inertia – a bit like I do when I don’t fancy the gym!”
“It’s been like being 8 years old again and really not wanting to go to the party as I would rather sit in my room playing with my toys. But, of course when I did go I’d have a great time and I feel so much better for it! So now, as an adult, I’m having to remind myself how much I enjoy those experiences and connections and having a balance of quiet time for me as well as meeting up with others”
“I’ve made sure that I deliberately choose to accept social invites when they’re extended (provided I want to spend time with whoever has asked!) I’ve also had a lot of fun spending time with people I didn’t know well or in some cases hadn’t ever met in 3D (rather than on a screen)”
“I think that slowly moving out my comfort zone is the key for me – step by step rather than suddenly doing something very different.”
“I’ve been really intentional about engaging with people when I’m out. It’s very easy to stay within ourselves while out doing the shopping, or going for a walk. I’ve found that intentionally smiling at fellow walkers, commenting on cute dogs or having a conversation with the cashier at the checkout when I’m getting my shopping boosts not only my oxytocin and serotonin, but is getting me used to interacting and being social again. A smile is such a great way to break the ice.”
“I’ve been working with school children who have lost connection with their friends and are still really scared to either be at school. The social interaction we get at school is so crucial, especially for teenagers, it’s a time when they build their social skills for the rest of their lives, and without that there is the potential of lifetime of loneliness.”
“Because of lockdown and life slowing down, I got into a routine of going to bed really early and doing very little on days when the kids were all at school. As life opened up I found myself turning down opportunities to see friends and socialise because I started to believe it was all too much and would ruin my new routine and that this wouldn’t be good for me.
I then couldn’t understand why despite going to bed early, reducing a lot of stress in my life and doing lots of exercise, I still felt flat (until I learned about Oxytocin and the importance of positive interaction). I now make sure I get a balance of both and ensure that I am regularly in communication with my friends and arrange a few things a week that are going to create meaningful interaction with people I enjoy being around.
Now I try to plan ahead a little to make sure I have things to look forward to where I know I am going to get a big dose of oxytocin.”
“It’s not just the older generations that get lonely. Encouraging people to come together is an important role in our communities. Our local cafe is doing a great job of encouraging groups of people to come together by organising events like young baby and parent groups”
“For me loneliness can also be when you’re in a room full of people or spending time with people who you don’t really connect with. It can feel lonely when you feel like you don’t fit in or if you have opinions that are different from the majority. Throughout life I’ve sometimes changed my views to go along with the group from fear of standing out.
Loneliness can come from not being your authentic self and changing your beliefs and opinions to fit in.
I love the idea of bringing the generations together – new mothers meeting with older people who may have brought families up and are now living alone. I often thought of this when I pushed my double buggy past the local care home, feeling lonely and a bit lost.”
“For me loneliness has its roots in the belief that we are separate, detached from the whole to which we try desperately to return – the need to fit in. It’s difficult to feel connected when everyone is pulling us in all directions at once, trying to please everyone and forgetting that the most important person who can actually make a difference is oneself.
Lockdown for me meant an opportunity to slow down, turn the focus inward, decide over my priorities and create something new. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to reconnect with my son, we developed new routines together, we started talking to each other more (more heart to heart than rushed mother and stressed son). I reconnected with my inner voice, and it has grown stronger every day. To me, the times we live in are the biggest opportunity to create something together as a species with a neocortex.“
“Personally, the times I’ve felt lonely in my life is when I used to try to “fit in”. Not being myself felt like a very lonely place.
I’ve enjoyed getting back out there and socialising again. But I have definitely noticed, from working with teenagers, that they are struggling with this. Particularly the ones who were of the age where they would have been starting to go out on their own with friends. This side of their development is a couple of years behind because of the pandemic. As parents I think we have to be mindful of this.”
“I did notice at the beginning of this year that I was missing those face to face interactions that I’d previously taken for granted. We moved house last summer and it was taking time to get to know some of the new school mums – interaction on the school run was now taking a lot more effort as I needed to build up new relationships.
Also, a lot of my work meetings had stayed online for ease and convenience. So, I decided to make an effort to see if I could switch any of my online meetings to good old fashioned face to face catch ups instead. I also made a conscious effort to suggest meeting up with friends – sending a text message to suggest meeting for a walk or a coffee. It was a good reminder that we often need to take that positive action first to create the opportunity for positive interaction.”
Read more about what loneliness is, how it impacts our mental health and what we can do about in our blog post: Are you struggling to reconnect after the pandemic?
If you are struggling with feelings of loneliness and you’d like to find out more about how hypnotherapy can help you to reconnect and boost your feel good hormones, get in touch with one of our therapists to book in your free initial consultation today!
If you’d like to find out how solution focused hypnotherapy could help you to reduce anxiety, cope with stress and maintain your brain, why not get in touch to book your FREE initial consultation with your local Inspired to Change hypnotherapist? Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are based across the UK in Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Devon, Essex, Kent, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Norfolk, Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are all recognised by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, the UK’s leading not-for-profit hypnotherapy professional association.
To find out how you can train as a solution focused hypnotherapist click here for our hypnotherapy school information.