Health Defence Scotland November 21, 2019 Chatty Coffee Corners, Connections and Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland. Chatty Coffee Corners, Connections and Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Have you ever felt lonely? Have you ever been in a busy, crowded room that felt full of life and energy but still felt alone? Loneliness is a deeply personal experience and is described differently by different people. Over 9 million people in the UK – almost a fifth of the population – say they are always or often lonely, but almost two-thirds feel uncomfortable admitting it. Loneliness can affect anyone, at all ages and stages of life. It can affect our wellbeing, how we feel and how we cope with everyday life. Loneliness and wellbeing As we go through life, things may happen which can lead to feelings of loneliness. For example, the breakdown of a relationship , changing jobs, moving to a new area or experiencing ill health, such as a long-term chest, heart or stroke condition. Loneliness affects people in different ways and can cause changes in your behaviour. For example, what you choose to eat or drink, how you think or feel, how well you sleep or how you connect with others. It can also lead to an increase in stress which has been linked to heart disease and stroke. If we are able to reduce our feelings of loneliness and work through these difficult emotions, this can help us live a healthier, happier life. More information can be found in our Essential Guide to Mental Wellbeing. What we choose to eat and drink can also affect our mood. Ask the Health Defence team for a copy of our Essential Guide to Healthy Eating. Choosing to eat regular meals can help manage our mood. Try to stay hydrated and drink 6–8 glasses of fluid per day. Being active and joining a group such as a health walk is a great way to connect with people and improve your health and wellbeing. How can Health Defence help reduce loneliness? Health Defence Scotland is helping live healthier lives. By working with local groups in the community, we can work together to build connections, and tackle isolation and loneliness. At our free Health Defence health checks we can work through questions together which help to spot loneliness and talk about ways to help. Coffee corners Have you ever visited one of our Community Hubs? They are at the heart of the community and each one has a friendly coffee corner. You can help yourself to a free hot drink, take time to sit and chat and meet others. We are part of the national Chatty Café Scheme. If you have had a stroke, you might have a condition called aphasia that can make it harder to communicate. You may find it difficult to speak, understand other people, read or write. Staff within our Community Hubs have received training on aphasia which helps the Hubs to be ‘aphasia friendly’. At Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and Health Defence we believe you should never underestimate the power of a cup of tea. The informal connections and friendly chats in our coffee corner all help to make a difference. Sometimes just being around people or finding a new interest or hobby helps with loneliness. Within our Community Hubs, we also have free groups and classes that run every week. Drop into one of our Hubs to find out what’s on. Volunteering Volunteering allows us to give our time back and make a difference whilst feeling connected to others. Volunteering has many positives. Research has shown volunteering reduces feelings of isolation and loneliness. It can help us to create new friendships, improve our mental wellbeing and improve our self-esteem. I’m scared to admit that I feel lonely If you have been feeling lonely for a long time, you might not have told anyone and it can be scary to open up to someone for the first time. You might know lots of people but still have feelings of loneliness. Speaking to someone you trust, for example, a friend, family member or your doctor, can be an important first step to feeling better. You can also speak to our Advice Line nurses for free, confidential support and advice. Call: 0808 801 0899 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-4pm), text: NURSE to 66777 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Advice Line nurses can also tell you about peer support groups that might be available in your area. Happy, healthy and connected By working together we can reduce feelings of loneliness. Health Defence Scotland is playing a part in helping us to stay happy, healthy and connected. Together this will help us and others lead healthier lives. Written by Joanna Teece. Registered Dietitian. Health Defence Lead.