‘It can be as detrimental to our health and well-being as smoking 15 cigarettes a day’
It takes a village to raise a child, so they say, but what if that village no longer exists?
Parenthood has a funny way of keeping you overly occupied as the kids rally around you and ensure you are never truly alone. The sad juxtaposition of being lonely and isolated as a parent is that, while you may physically never have a moment to yourself, the desperate isolation you feel from friends, family and life in general can hang on your shoulders.
With partners at work, friends and family leading their own lives, nap-times and school-runs dictating your free-time, it can be overwhelmingly isolating.
While this isn’t a new phenomenon, it is only lightly spoken about and parents-to-be are often not forewarned about the isolating factor of babies. Lately, it is striking a cord with more and more parents who openly admit: “I’m lonely and feel lost.”
The question is, how much can this isolation and loneliness affect our mental health? And how can we step out from the loneliness?
Aisling Leonard-Curtin, chartered psychologist, co-director of ACT Now Purposeful Living and author of The Power of Small, explains that, “there was a large meta-analysis, which combined the results of several research studies that found that loneliness and isolation were as detrimental to our health and well-being as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having a weight within the obese range. Simply put, the impact of loneliness on parents is huge and cannot be overstated.
“When loneliness and isolation happen on an on-going basis for parents, they are far more susceptible to anxiety, depression and burnout. It can also have an impact on our physical well-being, decreasing our immunity to common colds and flus whilst also increasing our chances of experiencing back, neck and headaches.”
Avril Fitzpatrick was 19 when she became…