Feeling socially isolated or lonely? You are not alone. The Angus Reid Institute, in partnership with Cardus, recently conducted a Canada-wide study on social isolation and loneliness and the results are concerning. Not only are we spending more time alone that we would like, we are feeling lonely even when we are surrounded by others.
More Canadians than ever before are living alone. This trend is not necessarily a cause for alarm, until we consider that the results of the study found that the majority of our social interactions are with the people we live with. If we are living alone, our main source of connection is removed and feelings of social isolation and loneliness have more opportunity to flourish. These feelings can be amplified if we identify as:
- a senior;
- a visible minority;
- LGBTQ2+; and/or,
- having a physical disability.
Having fewer social connections and regular interactions also tends to correlate to other aspects of our overall well-being. If we are highly connected, we are more likely to rate our overall life satisfaction highly as well; if we are feeling socially isolated or lonely, we are more likely to rate life satisfaction as low. The more isolated and lonely we feel, the more likely we are to feel that we have no one to turn to in times of deep personal struggle or financial hardship.
Most surprising, despite its reputation for reducing human interaction, technology can and often does play a key role for many in reducing social isolation and feelings of loneliness. Regular phone calls, texts, social media engagement and especially video calls can enhance feelings of connectedness, especially for those who are feeling socially isolated.
While the study paints a gloomy picture, there is hope! One thing is exceedingly clear, we are all in this together and we can all help each other feel less alone. If you are feeling lonely or socially isolated try one of these to bolster your sense of connectedness:
- get to know your neighbour;
- pick up the phone and call someone;
- video chat with a friend or family member;
- join a club or group; or,
- volunteer in your community.
Reaching out to a friend, family member or neighbour might seem awkward at first, do it anyway! You will both feel less lonely and socially isolated. Deepening community requires us all to get out of our comfort zones and build relationships with each other.
Cities Deepening Community wants to the help cities and towns to deepen the sense of community. If you are interested in becoming a member and joining peers across Canada to build a movement to deepen our sense of community contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take Your Learning Further:
- Read the study A Portrait of Social Isolation and Loneliness in Canada Today
- Watch Social Connection in a Disconnected Era
- Watch Ending Loneliness and Social Isolation: A Public Health Perspective
- Read Shining a Light on Natural Caring
- Interested in becoming a Cities Deepening Community member? Read the brochure