Ella Donnison: Lonely This Christmas
Christmas for many is a time for joy and happiness. For others however, loneliness can feel more acute than ever. Ella reflects on her own experiences of loneliness and encourages us to remember that “even small gestures” can make a big difference.
Loneliness is a tough subject. It can feel like there’s no one to talk things through with or even have a conversation with. Loneliness is a complex emotion and is unique to almost every individual.
A recent article suggests that almost 700,000 people across Yorkshire live alone and incur mental health problems as a result. Common definitions of loneliness class it as a state of solitude where a person has no contact and interaction with others. However, the real fact is that it’s actually a state of mind – a person can be surrounded by thousands of people and still feel alone.
The mind is a place that is hard to escape, continually frightens people and has a major detrimental impact on mental health. Loneliness causes feelings of emptiness and rejection spurring negative self-evaluations and craving for human contact; although the fact of the matter is that the mind consumes and takes over making it extremely difficult to form connections in any way with others.
Christmas is a special time, full of fun festivities and family meet ups; yet for a person experiencing loneliness this can be one of the hardest times of the year. It’s easy to enjoy Christmas in all its glory forgetting about any worries, but it’s hard to imagine being surrounded by people and feeling like you have no one or eating Christmas dinner alone. These are the realities that people all across Sheffield will face this Christmas time. This means it’s vital that loneliness is tackled head on; we need to talk; we need to interact, and we need to connect! Even small gestures; a ‘Merry Christmas’ could brighten someone’s entire day!
Loneliness can be overcome; it does need effort and the desire to change but this change will only make people happier and healthier. Loneliness is not something that burdens a person forever; with focus on developing quality and meaningful relationships, your outlook can begin to change.
Take me for example; I came to Sheffield to study at university after being told what a good place it would be to live and make friends in the hustle of such a busy city. When I started my journey here though, it wasn’t everything it was made out to be. I didn’t make the best friends for life that I was guaranteed to meet in my first week, and I didn’t fit straight into social groups. It was a tough time and it felt like there were few people I had to talk to about my struggles.
Now however, with my first semester done I couldn’t feel more at home and connected. I’ve built friendships and joined clubs and my initial period of loneliness is all but forgotten.