Loneliness is an epidemic. Usually, conversations around loneliness centre on older members of the population, as retirees and old-age pensioners find it increasingly difficult to maintain connections with others. But loneliness affects more than those of older age and is affecting men, in particular, more and more.
By and large, women are more likely to suffer loneliness than men. However, the growth in loneliness amongst men can be attributed, somewhat, to growing levels of poor mental health in the UK population – which, itself, disproportionately impacts men. According to data shared by the Samaritans, the male suicide rate in England was 10 points higher than the female suicide rate.
With loneliness and poor mental health key catalysts for one another, it becomes clear to see that combatting loneliness is one powerful way to improve the lives of many struggling men across the country. What are some of the best ways in which men can combat their own loneliness?
Join a sports club
There is something quintessential about joining a sports club; the camaraderie that can be found in groups that come together to share in a sport is often unrivalled, and the sport itself is local competition manifest. Whether a weekly five-a-side at a local football centre or a Sunday league rugby team that competes nationally, getting stuck into sports can have a powerful impact on mental health.
For one, there is the social side. Playing with teammates or against rivals puts you in direct contact with other people, enabling you to network and make new friends. For another, the exercise involved can boost happiness hormones, making it more likely that you will get out of the house, see people and stay fit.
Find a hobby
If sports do not appeal, there are other ways in which you can indulge in the company of like-minded peers. Finding a local hobby group for a subject of interest is a good place for you to start. There are groups and classes for almost every discipline, from watercolours to woodworking and beyond.
With the latter especially, you can learn all manner of useful skills, from how to use a bench saw to how to build a bench – all while learning alongside new friends and colleagues. Hobbies are a wonderful way to inject new meaning into life and bring colour to even those lonely moments at home.
Lastly, there is the matter of volunteering. Rather than investing time and money into a new hobby or endeavour, you could instead just invest your time in a cause about which you feel strongly. With environmental concerns more prescient than ever, you could join your local conservationists to help with anything from litter-picking to re-wilding projects. Again, through volunteering, you will meet people who share your opinions on a number of things – giving you a new community on which to rely.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.