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Loneliness and Self-isolating - how to combat it

1.5 million people in the UK will receive letters from the Government asking them to self-isolate for 12 weeks in the coming days to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19. For those self isolating already, loneliness may be a feeling that starts in the coming days or weeks.Professor Kimberley Brownlee

Professor Kimberley Brownlee, from the University of Warwick's Department of Philosophy comments on loneliness in the UK, and how to combat it at a time when we all need it.

"Initially self-isolating will feel like a small change, but it’s not what we’re used to as we are deeply social creatures. We spend 80% of our waking hours with other people, and psychologists tell us we actually prefer that time to the time we spend alone, so the longer our self-isolation lasts, the harder we’ll feel it.

"9 million people in Britain report feeling lonely all the time, and in the US 40% of people report feeling lonely, but this is higher amongst older people.
We are all about to get a taste of loneliness when we isolate. When loneliness becomes chronic and acute it’s correlated with health risks, such as reduced immunity, suicidal thoughts, depression, alcoholism, progression of Alzheimer’s and self-harm. It’s a threatening experience to feel lonely.

"However, we can do various things to help to reduce the feeling of loneliness, such as calling parents we haven’t talked to recently, or checking-in with someone we don’t often see, even if it’s just to see if the groceries have arrived. Essentially being nosey neighbours online is a service we can offer each other, and, as Richard Layard says, one way to reduce loneliness is to feel useful. If we have a way to feel useful to other people we feel less lonely."

ENDS

23 MARCH 2020

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager - Science
University of Warwick
Tel +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager - Science
University of Warwick
Tel +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk