Updated: Aug 4
The United Kingdom Has Created a Minister of Loneliness - Why?
In England and Wales in 1994 and 1995 there were 2200 people studied carefully to find out what was going on with loneliness in their lives. It started when they were 18. The most recent results in this longitudinal study indicate clearly that those who reported being lonelier at the beginning were far more likely to experience health problems along the way and deal poorly with stress.
Moving from that small group to a world view, Covid 19 disrupted huge populations. There have been many studies of all age groups, masks, and lockdowns in different countries that verify the effects of isolation. In the US we are more conscious today of increases in teen suicides. We also know that divorce and suicide rates among first responders go up as soon as they "retire". They are cut off suddenly from their "working identity" when they change environments, but also from the co-workers and friends who provided emotional support.
The Ministry of Loneliness was an attempt to address growing loneliness as a Public Health Issue. It was well meaning, and it may yield some effective and lasting results for the Public. My question is: Can YOU wait for someone else to fix individual relationships or the lack of them?
Loneliness and retirement and aging mean very different things to different people, so it comes at YOU and your situation from a different angle than the next person. Having a Ministry of Loneliness is an admirable intent for a government seeking to help its citizens. Can it encourage connections? Hopefully. But individual responsibility remains the best answer.
The need to be wary of and fight off loneliness in your individual family or yourself or your friends still rests with your individual ability to seek and find the answers much more quickly than the Ministry can. That is because you build reliance and self leadership from within. Then you can lift others up and you won't be lonely. "Friendship is, essentially, a partnership." - Aristotle
You must DO something. You can think about DOing for a little while. That's good. Get a quiet place. Then find a little thing you can DO and you know you can DO.
When you are ready to organize the effort you can grab a piece of paper and pen and start with this: On the first page of a notebook write out "your relationship account." Under that put the name of another person of your choosing. Under that, put at least one thing about them that you admire or are grateful for. Next, can you decide what a withdrawal from the account looks like for them? What's a deposit? Just assume something if it doesn't come quickly. You can change it later on. If you like this idea do it for several friends and see where it leads you.
Next exercise: on a separate page draw a vertical line a few inches long and then a horizontal line through the middle of the vertical one. At the top of the vertical write ENERGIZING, and DEPLETING at the bottom of the line. On the left side of the page write INFREQUENT and on the right side, FREQUENT. You now have four quadrants.
in 5 minutes, put as many people as you can into this grid, depending on how you FEEL about them most of the time. Then ask: Who do I want to see more? Where do I need to reduce contact? Now, go back to the account pages you set up and see how you could move toward the energizers and be more comfortable there. And then put a couple of action steps on you calendar to get going!
Lastly, call or contact me when you have an inkling or an AHA and share it. You will feel a lot less lonely!
Happy Days Ahead
Joe Grant, MBA
Certified Retirement Coach
Contact me for a Free 45 minute Consultation at https://yourvantagepoints.com