The Age of Loneliness
Mother Teresa once said: “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody.” George Monbiot calls the present time ‘the age of loneliness’ and emphasises that loneliness has more profound and dramatic consequences on health than smoking or obesity. Feeling isolated from others can disrupt sleep, raise blood pressure, lower immunity,increase depression, lower overall subjective wellbeing and increase the stress hormone cortisol. Loneliness now severely affects people of all ages, with studies showing acute isolation among the young as much as the old.
There are clear links between mental illness and isolation, one leads to the other, and they feed off each other. In 2010, The Mental Health Foundation commissioned a report, the Lonely Society, which showed the link between our “individualistic society” and the increase in common mental health disorders over the last 50 years. The report revealed how mental health problems occur more frequently in unequal societies, where vulnerable people are often left behind. The report says that lonely people often share certain characteristics, such as a history of loss or trauma, and negative, critical and harsh parenting. Loneliness often gives rise to emotions of anger, sadness, depression, worthlessness, resentment, emptiness, and vulnerability.
This explains why so many of our volunteers dread Christmas, the time when everyone is supposed to be enjoying a “happy family” time, and why Cherry Tree puts so much effort into giving our loving community of volunteers a special happy time too. We would love to ignore the festival altogether, but society makes this impossible, so instead we put on a huge party with masses of food, and every single person gets a personally and carefully chosen parcel of gifts from “Misses Christmas,” which is delivered to their home if they cannot come to the party. Last year, Christmas Day was still a terrible, unbearable day for many people, so this year volunteers will have a self-organised day together. At Cherry Tree we believe in the power and strength of community, and have seen how it can bring people back to life again.
If you can contribute in any way to this special celebration, please contact the nursery. Gifts of food, presents, vouchers or money are very welcome, but no alcohol please.
Please note the Nursery will be closed on Saturdays from 17th December 2016 until 4th February 2017.
We would like to thank Mags4Dorset very much indeed for making us their charity of the year, and enabling us to write these monthly articles. We hope you have found them interesting!