In this episode, Alex workshops loneliness with psychologist Sarah Piper from The Resilience Centre in Sydney. Prompted by new research from Swinburne University, Alex and Sarah dissect what loneliness is, what contributes to it and how we can all work towards addressing it. Amongst the discussion and laughs, Alex and Sarah workshop the importance of kindness, the positive and negative benefits of social media and share their own experiences with loneliness.

Takeaways:

  • Swinburne University research on loneliness and social isolation in young Australians
  • Loneliness is can be defined as unwanted social isolation
  • Loneliness can also affect physical health. Sarah shares that it can be as bad for us as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. A lonely person is also more likely to die prematurely and, has increased vulnerability to blood pressure, stress and poor immunity.
  • Lonely people can often feel paranoid so don’t ask for help in trying to resolve their social isolation
  • If social media is used as a springboard to social connection, it can be a great way of addressing loneliness. However, it can be problematic if it is an end in itself.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of kindness. Scoop people up with you. Remember most people will experience loneliness at some stage in their life.

How to Address It?

  • Finding your tribe is essential. Start with your local community – investigate opportunities to get involved at your child’s school, sporting team or musical group.
  • Consider Volunteering. Seek Volunteer claims to be Australia’s largest source of volunteer opportunities. Volunteering Australia is also a great source to investigate suitable opportunities also.
  • Meet-Up – an online platform that has an incredible range of local groups in a wide variety of interests. Alex mentions with her Cybermum hat on that one should always be cautiously suspicious when you first meet up with people that you initially connected with online.  
  • Set yourself small goals – maybe start with a conversation with your local barista, then perhaps the staff at your local supermarket. Once your confidence is higher, consider Meet-Ups or local community groups.
  • Exercise can be powerful. Consider a dog. Dog parks can be incredibly social.

If your Child is Experiencing Loneliness:

  • If your kids have a social anxiety – they may just need baby steps. Small achievable goals.
  • Ask yourself whether you are role modelling social interactions for them. Are you getting out enough? Are you creating enough opportunities for them to socialise also?
  • Consider some ‘behind the scenes’ social engineering with other parents. Perhaps you could engineer for your child to be invited to join a soccer team or a swim club?
  • Consider professional help if they are resisting connecting. And doing this sooner rather than later will make it easier to address.
  • Putting some boundaries around their social media use may be helpful if you consider this may be preventing them from real connection with their peers.

Recipe of The Week – Apple Cake

This is the perfect cake to use up bruised and sad lunchbox apples – you know the ones that you send to school that are returned home. At the end of a week, I’ll often cook up these rejected apples and transform them into a cake that my boys NEVER reject! And this cake can easily be made gluten and dairy free – simply follow the notes in the recipe which you can find here! Enjoy!!

Alex xx