This project looks into well-being and if it can be enhanced by using creativity to reduce feelings of loneliness. This project also wishes to look at what steps can be taken to help combat loneliness. With this in mind, the project proposes the following question to help with researching these areas.
How can the feelings of loneliness be alleviated to improve well-being by using projects relating to creativity?
Recent data suggests it is young adults who are more likely to feel loneliness. In a UK government report (DCMS 2019), it was found that 9% of people in England aged 16 to 24 reported feeling lonely often, the highest among all groups. Also, just 11% say they never felt lonely, the lowest figure among the groups too. Similar results have been found in New Zealand (Loneliness NZ 2020), United States (Cigna 2020) and Japan (KFF 2018). All reports should show a steady decline in loneliness from one older group to the next, suggesting that people report feeling lonely less as they get older. The effect of loneliness at such a youthful age can impact them negatively in the long term (Loades et al. 2020). It is also the case, that all groups when asked when they felt most lonely, was as a young adult (Hammond 2018). With it is with this research in mind, that the project’s target audience are young adults, aged 18-24.
Goncalo et al. (2020) show creativity connects people, helping to motivate, improve their well-being and tackling loneliness. Even the process of sharing ideas helps people reveal themselves and feel more confident (Goncalo and Katz 2020). Also, research shows watching visual stories about mental health supports lonely people who lack social networks, making them feel less alone (Rennick-Egglestone et al. 2019; Nurser et al. 2018). Also, creative activities such as writing or reading particularly fiction (Kidd and Castano 2013; Mar and Oatley 2008), listening to music (Thoma et al. 2013) and painting (Alijanzadeh et al. 2015), help towards lessening the effects of loneliness, improve social connections, helping to deal with stress and mental health too.
Music is widely used for therapy purposes. It has been proven to have a positive impact on people’s mental health. Ruud (2010) states people who are dealing with cultural exclusion or been isolated that choose to become engaged with music therapy, has a positive impact on their well-being. Although in this project, it is not clearly stated that this is music therapy, it is hoped that people have beneficial experiences with this project. The project hopes that it helps them battle any sense of loneliness or lessen the negative symptoms of self-isolation.
It has been shown by Dettwiller (2014) that community projects involving working on something together have a positive impact. Through educational learning and sharing of knowledge with others, people build relationships with others. Dettwiller (ibid.) further state that “being close to the community makes you realise that people have similar health concerns, but their circumstances are different”. By working together in community projects, people learn to understand themselves and their differences which bring them closer and bring comfort.
Zimmermann (1785) argues that loneliness can be divided into two categories, positive and negative. Positive is voluntary, people are content and happy withdrawing from life. Negative loneliness is a situation where people, unfortunately, suffer due to a lack of social relationships. The latter being what most academics, theorists and researchers describe as what loneliness is from the 1950s onwards (De Jong Gierveld et al. 2006) and is the definition that this research utilises. Weiss (1973) also proposes six requirements that humans need to alleviate loneliness. These needs include attachment, social integration, guidance, a reassurance of worth, opportunity for nurturance and reliable alliance. Weiss further adds to this by suggesting that they are two types of loneliness, social and emotional. The first Social refers to the inability to integrate with the community and the second Emotional, being the lack of intimate attachment with people.
The consequences of long-term loneliness can have significant detrimental dangers to well-being. Well-being is defined by Dodge et al. (2012) as having “…the psychological, social and physical resources they need to meet a particular psychological, social and/or physical challenge”. Gironda and Lubben (2003) learned that those experiencing loneliness were likely to experience psychological suffering. In addition to this, Holt-Lunstad et al. (2015) found that loneliness is twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity is. They also discovered that a lack of social networks can intensify health risks, equivalent to having an alcohol use disorder or smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.