Loneliness NZ


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Unemployed and lonely

Many employed people would have had occasion to question why society demands them to get up and go to work… on a dark, rainy morning, when staying curled up in bed to finish a book seems heavenly; or past midnight when the computer is reluctantly turned off before another favourite binge-series episode starts. At that point for a fleeting moment the concept of being unemployed might be enviable.

But you, actually unemployed, are going through one of life’s most stressful challenges… so we understand that it’s an emotional journey for you. You know that by the time those same people are at work – even on a bad day – they are caught up in another world… people, politics, and the work absorbing their attention… long forgetting that they even had thoughts of not going to work; and not sparing any thought to the many of you being unemployed. Even when they are moaning about their boss, or disliking the latest proposals coming out… you know they have what you miss… conversations, challenges, intrigue… and a sense of common purpose and togetherness.

If you’ve never been employed and despairing of ever finding work, we appreciate how hard it might be for you not yet finding your niche in society. And if you had to leave a job, we acknowledge how hard it might be for you to accept that life in one part of the world has gone on without you. Mostly, we empathise that being unemployed, and job hunting, might make you feel lonely… and that the feeling of loneliness might have started pervading all other feelings… as days just blur into each other.

So you are one of the many people who does feel lonely from being out of work, or you know of someone who feels loneliness in this way, then read on. In fact even if you suspect others might be lonely, and they stoically say they aren’t, it’s worth understanding loneliness amongst the unemployed better.

Scratching the surface of being lonely

Just as you might find it hard to understand how employed people might feel lonely at work, it’s also hard for them to really grasp how very lonely you might be: what it’s like:

Being stuck

...in your own thoughts day-in and day-out; increasingly hard to stay positive through another rejection.

Anxiously wondering

... if your phone is working because no-one has called you…especially the agency about the job you know you’re perfect for.

Having no one

... to talk to because everyone else is at work, and you can’t keep interrupting them.

Feeling frustrated

...that you can’t go anywhere because you better not spend any money.

Dreading meeting

...anyone where you have to fake a smile at the the inevitable ‘so how’s job hunting going?’ question.

Being unemployed gives rise to many challenges with regard to feeling lonely...

… and in addition to these, you undoubtedly identify with many of the same loneliness problems that employed people in our country have regardless of how happy they are in their jobs.

Prevalence of loneliness

If you are unemployed and feeling lonely, it might help to know you are not the only one. You being lonely makes sense to us when we consider that in the last NZ General Social Survey of the population (aged 15 and above) the prevalence of loneliness in unemployed people is much higher than for employed people. Less than half of unemployed people experienced no loneliness.

Put another way over 83,400 people who were unemployed had felt some form of loneliness in the previous four weeks.

More significantly we wonder if you are among the 13,482 of unemployed people who reported that they were lonely most or all of the time! Just how lonely you might be can be considered in the context that over a quarter – 26.4% – of people unemployed, like you, have loneliness some or most or all the time; compared to 15.1% of the employed people (and 13.6% of the surveyed population).

We can’t help thinking with sadness that you might have felt trapped and helpless during this tough time you have been going through.

Pie charts comparing employed and unemployed New Zealanders aged 15+ feeling lonely in last four weeks
International studies link loneliness and unemployment to suicide. So we urge you to take your loneliness seriously, as your health could be affected adversely by this period of unemployment.

Exposing loneliness

Feeling socially isolated occurs when people like you are not connected into their communities in a meaningful way.  To name a few, loneliness in the unemployed might be exacerbated when:

  • young adults return to living with their parents and feel as if their freedom has gone.
  • daily household chores fall primarily to the unemployed person, and they feel as if their previous level of responsibility has changed.
  • significant change in the amount of money available to the whole family, and new debt brings feelings of shame.
  • both partners in a relationship lose their jobs at the same time with a company downsizing, causing them to having feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
  • children’s behaviour deteriorates and their education suffers, heightening feelings of guilt.
  • life-plans need to be changed and retirement comes earlier than ever expected, causing fear and confusion.

These are very real issues for you;
and some are not quick fixes! So despite these challenges it’s vital you actively find ways to ensure that you – and those around you – are emotionally healthy.

Exhibiting signs of being lonely

Solitude is very important for people to reflect and to come to grips with their situation.  Being alone for short periods are also not necessarily unhealthy. What we are considering is the type of loneliness which is prolonged and might be damaging to an individual’s health and wellbeing.

Some people talk about their loneliness; other’s don’t; Some might not recognise that they are actually suffering from loneliness.

When people, like you, are already lonely, having people around you that you aren’t able to connect with on a deeper level, might even make your loneliness worse.

Research has shown that when socially isolated people aren’t getting enough regular human contact that can create problems with their family members and people who they do end up talking to.

This manifests behaviour such as:

  • Shying away from your previous colleagues because you feel you have nothing in common anymore.
  • Avoiding doing activities you used to enjoy as it seems so much effort to get yourself motivated.
  • Noticing awkwardness in friendships with everyone, including you, unsure what to say about your current situation.
  • Increasing the amount of alcohol or drugs you used to have.
  • Becoming unkempt and not bothering to get dressed during the day.
  • Arguing all the time with your family at home.

These are just the surface of the ways you might be showing signs of being lonely… and that you could recognise in others.
So where to from here?

Conquering loneliness

We appreciate…

you all have a unique story.

How long you have been lonely;  What you believe causes your particular loneliness; and what you have already tried to alleviate the loneliness.

To get to the heart of your loneliness we would like to get to know you!

Your personality, your eccentricities, and your values are all part of what makes you feel your loneliness more than some others.

Your next step

We appreciate the trust you would place in us to talk openly and frankly – so we promise no judgements – genuine empathy, respect and confidentiality.

Then when we have understood you better, we can help you move forward. Help you form better connections with your spread out communities, with your friends and your families…wherever they are in the world.

If you are ready to take the next step, click the button to get started addressing your loneliness:

People feel lonely for many reasons. To learn more about other working or studying and lonely categories, select one of the coloured boxes below, or scroll down the “I’m feeling lonely” menu.

Loneliness NZ square I'm feeling lonely logo

With our help you can conquer your loneliness by taking better care of your inner self.

And we can conquer loneliness in New Zealand by better understanding and accepting each other.

So when you are ready…click here.

We look forward to hearing your view of the world!

Stats NZ (2016), “Well-being Statistics: 2016.” Download the data.