Have you ever found yourself in a room full of people or at a party, yet felt lonely; I have, on many an occasion.
Recently I read a BBC news article which surprised me; in short, recent research shows that young adults are more likely to feel lonely than older age groups.
The research found that almost 10% of people aged 16 to 24 were “always or often” lonely – the highest proportion of any age group and more than three times higher than people aged 65 and over. I was surprised because my perception was the opposite. Young people are always “connected” and communicating with others whereas older people often have long bouts of solitude.
While loneliness and social isolation are often used interchangeably, there are notable differences between the two. Social isolation is the lack of contact with other individuals, while loneliness is the feeling that one is emotionally disconnected from others. In essence, a person can be in the presence of others and still feel lonely (hence my opening question).
Clearly young people are turning to social media to treat their feelings of loneliness, which can lead to social isolation. They feel less lonely in the short run, but these types of friends are frequently about quantity than quality. Seeking validation through social media isn’t the answer. Let’s be honest, people usually post the good parts of their life, the part they want others to see; if there is a cry for help, social media friends aren’t necessarily the people you meet with in person or turn up when you need them.
It seems to me that meaningful social interaction is the key to reducing both loneliness and isolation; so, more face-to-face conversations are needed.
At this stage you’re probably asking: How does this relate to Inspire?
You may recall that I previously wrote about our purpose; the reason why Elisa and I opened Inspire. To recap, our purpose is:
“To make a difference; inspiring people, from all backgrounds, into a life of mind and body balance.”
In so doing, it was important for us to create a space that is accessible, friendly and welcoming. More than that, we wanted an environment that is supportive, where we help nurture each other (clients and staff alike). We wanted to create a family environment!
That is why there is a big dinner table in the middle of our waiting room! It is there to create opportunity for meaningful face to face conversations much like family meal time.
Everyone who comes to the studio is there for a reason. Some are there for their physical well-being, others for mind body or even spiritual enlightenment or connection. Some however are there simply because they are lonely and looking for a place where they belong.
So, next time you see someone new in the studio, reach out and say “Hi”. You never know what sort of conversation and friendship that may lead to.
Till next time,