Is Loneliness Unhealthy?  

Have you ever been out in the wild?

The reality TV series ‘Alone’ on SBS OnDemand is a great chance to gain an understanding of what it takes to survive in the wild, all from the comfort of your own loungeroom.

The series documents 10 contestants who’re dropped into the wilderness in separate locations and have to survive with only 10 items. They have to find their own water, hunt for their own food and brave the elements for as long as they can. The last person standing wins half-a-million dollars.

As contestants drop out one-by-one, due to factors such as lack of personal safety from bears and cougars, lack of hydration and food, or lack of adequate warmth and shelter, surprisingly the biggest reason that most contestants ‘threw in the towel’ and called for rescue was because they couldn’t stand being alone.

The psychological difficulty of being completely alone for over a month drove almost all the final contestants to extreme lows of depression, anxiety and sadness, causing many of them to forfeit their chances of winning.

Throughout the journey all final contestants came to the similar conclusion that humans are social creatures and can’t survive healthily without social interaction for very long. It seems that the list of reasons humans benefit from getting back to the benefits of nature doesn’t include being alone.

These ideas help us to reflect on how we think about loneliness and whether community or social connection is something necessary or conditional in our modern world. These ideas are close to home for many of us, as most of us experience a degree of loneliness in our personal lives.

Did you know?…forty-four percent of Australian’s regularly feel loneliness, yet 48% are hesitant to admit it to others.* The stigma surrounding loneliness makes it difficult to talk about, but the impact of loneliness highlights the importance of addressing it.

It’s often not well considered that loneliness has negative consequences. There have been many studies about the effects of loneliness and isolation and the ‘nasties’ that can result, from depression, stress, cognitive decline, and a host of other medical complications for people both young and old. According to a Brigham Young (US) University study, loneliness can be as deadly as smoking or obesity. This brings us to the realisation that we all need to take part in helping those around us to be less alone as we also take initiative to invest in community for its positive benefits on our own health. Tackling the issue of loneliness can have a powerful impact on the world around us.

While changing our perspective is the first step in approaching this problem, building connections and community around us will also take practise as we begin to relearn and prize the values of togetherness and community that are often forgotten in today’s world. If anything, it will take our own initiative to make the change we would like to see and experience in our world.


Re-building local community with Belong Club

Belong Club hosts a range of free weekly events, both online and in person, to build connection in our local community. These events feature a range of activities, including walking and exercise, arts and craft, cooking, meditation, local get-togethers and a host of workshops and fun activities.

You can find out more about our events, at ccnb.com.au/events.

To find out more and join Belong Club, visit ccnb.com.au/belong-club and fill out the registration form.

* Topsfield, J 2021, “‘Like struggling for breath’: Loneliness takes heavy toll on Australians”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October.

^The Harvard Gazette 2017, ‘Good genes are nice but joy is better’, accessed January 2022, <https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/>.