Loneliness is on the rise and feeling lonely has a negative effect on a person’s health and well-being, particularly because it removes the safety net of social support. The antidote is simple: friendship. It helps protect the brain and body from stress, anxiety and depression.
Here our Liz Corbett, customer service advisor for WHA, talks about how she got herself out of lonely place with a little help from some new friends to mark World Friendship Day on July 30.
Loneliness is an experience that crept into my life when I least expected it and was a time in my life where I learnt the true value of friendship.
I used to think of loneliness as something that only affected elderly people. I never expected that I would experience it at such a young age and for such a long period of time.
My experience of loneliness began when my family unit broke down and I suddenly found myself as a single mum to two very young children. I was lost in a world of making claims to benefits that I had never accessed before, I was facing homelessness & financial hardship whilst trying to raise my 2 children and managing two jobs, my whole world was upside down.
My day-time life was a whirlwind of nursery drop offs, school runs, homework, cooking and cleaning, the list was endless, then 6.30pm arrived, bathing my children, kisses, cuddles, stories and hugs, the end of another very busy day.
At 7pm, my whirlwind stopped and so did I. My house was silent except for the sound of the washing machine, the hiss of the steam from the never-ending ironing saga, the drippy tap in the kitchen that was on my to-do list, the tiny snore from son’s bedroom. These sounds became so important to me, they meant that the silence of being lonely wasn’t so deafening.
The things that I had taken for granted before became so important to me, I wanted so badly to share a TV programme and hear somebody else’s laughter, I wanted to shout; ‘make me a drink please’, argue over who’s turn it was to put the bin our or wash-up, it was always my turn in my new life.
The loneliness consumed me, and it became my goal to end it as soon as possible. I devised a plan and created a whole new life for myself and my children.
Looking back on my life then, some of my plan was a little crazy but it brought me to the place in my life where I am now, a place where I thought I would never be.
So, the plan:
Get fit to boost my mood
As I never do things by halves, I decided to throw myself into this full force. Going from an evening couch potato with my close friends Haribo and Maltesers to a six -days a week hard-core boot camper!
At some points during step one of my plan I genuinely thought I was going to die, but it was so much fun that I couldn’t give up. My class was a group of fellow mums who welcomed me with open arms. We had similar interests and we soon made great friendships that spilled out of boot camp into lunches out, coffee, play dates with our children, beauty treatments and much more.
Step-one had been a great success and my evenings soon became a flurry of text messages from the boot camp girls chatting about our days. It was such a welcome break from the silence that I had been dealing with every evening.
This became my most enjoyable phase. Now that I had achieved the body that Kelly Brook was envious of, I wanted to add the finishing touches and so began my epic self-tanning phase. I became a gorgeous shade of human wotsit and loved every second of it. It gave me a much-needed confidence boost and I looked forward to ‘Tan Thursday’ so much.
I became a regular customer with my local beautician and had a beautiful orange glow and perfectly polished nails. On the back of my weekly visits to the beauticians I found that new friendships were forming with the girls in the shop and my mood was boosting at a flying rate.
With the astounding success of phases one and two I bounded into phase three with loads of enthusiasm. I was going to get out of the house in the evening and have fun!
As scary as this was, I did it and boy did I do it! Having no previous experience, I landed a job as a cocktail waitress in a new bar in town. As I waved my children off on their weekend with their dad, my transformation began.
Hair, nails, tan, beautiful dress and perfect make-up, I appeared in the bar as the new me and bounded into my new role full of confidence and made a bucket load of friends. I spent my time genuinely laughing, having fun and enjoying life- loneliness was beginning to fade.
The feeling that this gave to me was amazing and showed me that making changes in my life was having a huge benefit on my physical and mental wellbeing. The doors that these changes opened in my life continue to have a positive impact on both me and my children. We have made lovely new friends who have been there for us at the darkest of times, we have joined groups, and most importantly we have learned that the quiet times in our lives are sometimes sent to us to help us to make the changes that we need to find a more fulfilling life.
Often it is not until you personally experience a problem that you can fully understand what it feels like and the impact it can have on your life. I am truly thankful for the experience that I had, I never thought that I would ever say that but it is so true. I thought my world had ended when my family broke down. In fact it allowed me to create the wonderful life that we were missing out on.
I hold my three-step plan fully responsible for the new life that I have found now. Had I not joined boot camp, got fit, boosted my mood, built my confidence, lived with a permanent orange glow and perfect hair and nails, I would never have got my job in the bar, and I wouldn’t be where I am now.
Loneliness has left me, we have a happy home, a house filled with laughter, It’s not always my turn to put the bin out and it’s not always my turn to wash up, it’s always my turn to give the last kisses and cuddles of the day and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Loneliness doesn’t have to last forever, boot-camp isn’t for everybody, an orange glow isn’t for everybody, but don’t sit back and wait for change to come to you. Go out, find something new, join a group, talk to somebody new and grab the chances that are out there for you to change your life.
You never know what you might find. I found love, friendships, confidence and life is never silent anymore.
If you are experiencing loneliness – we are here for you – to help you combat these feelings and show you what is out there for this to change.
Get in touch with our Customer Service Team HERE