Loneliness is a growing concern, particularly among freelancers who work remotely, without the support and camaraderie that is often found in traditional workplaces.
Working alone for extended periods can lead to a sense of social isolation and disconnection from others, which can have a significant impact on psychological well-being and overall health. However, with loneliness there is more than just the psychological perspective, there is also a philosophical perspective that offers its own insight into why people feel lonely – and what to do about it.
The psychology of loneliness
From a psychological perspective, loneliness is considered a negative emotional state that arises when people feel that the amount of social connection they want and need is not being met in their actual lives by the social connections they have. Loneliness is a complex and multifaceted experience that can be influenced by a variety of factors, including social isolation, lack of social support, and social disconnectedness.
When discussing loneliness everyone focuses on the psychological aspects, so let’s talk about the philosophical side.
The philosophy of loneliness
From a philosophical perspective, loneliness is a sort of existential condition and a part of the human experience. Many philosophers have argued that loneliness is a fundamental aspect of human existence, arising from our awareness of our own mortality and the fact that we are ultimately alone in the world.
The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, for example, argued that human existence is characterised by a sense of radical freedom and that this freedom necessarily entails a sense of isolation and loneliness. According to Sartre, each individual is ultimately responsible for creating their own meaning in life, and this can be a lonely and isolating process.
Other philosophers have explored the connection between loneliness and the human condition in different ways. For example, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that loneliness is an essential aspect of creativity and artistic expression, while the philosopher Aristotle viewed loneliness as a necessary precondition for self-reflection and self-knowledge.
Overall, one strand of philosophical perspective on loneliness emphasises that loneliness is fundamentally a part of the human condition. While loneliness can be a difficult and challenging experience, many philosophers have argued that it can also be a source of insight, creativity, and self-discovery.
However, when looking at this perspective we need to consider the question, does loneliness really provide these benefits? When a person is alone, they are away from distractions and can focus on the task at hand, but being lonely is a state of feeling isolated from society. You can be alone but not suffer from loneliness, and you can also be in a crowded room and feel lonely.
The impact of loneliness
Loneliness can have a significant impact on our psychological health. When we feel lonely, it can trigger feelings of sadness, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Over time, these feelings can worsen and lead to or compound clinical depression and anxiety disorders.
Furthermore, studies have shown that loneliness can lead to physical health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, and weakened immune systems. Loneliness can trigger stress responses in the body, leading to an increase in cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress. Increased cortisol levels can lead to higher blood pressure, putting an individual at risk for cardiovascular disease.
Obesity is another physical health problem that can be caused by loneliness. Individuals who feel lonely are more likely to engage in unhealthy eating habits such as overeating and consuming high-calorie foods. This can lead to weight gain and obesity, which can increase the risk of developing chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
In addition, loneliness can negatively impact job performance. Feeling lonely makes it harder to focus and be productive. It can lead us to lose motivation, leading to decreased work output and performance. Furthermore, loneliness can lead to feelings of detachment and disinterest in our work, which can negatively impact job satisfaction and career growth.
Overall, the impact of loneliness on our health is significant. It can lead to a variety of health problems, both mental and physical, and can negatively impact job performance. Therefore, it is essential for freelancers, organisations, and large institutions to recognise the issue of loneliness in freelancing and take proactive steps to combat it.
How to reduce loneliness
Networking events, online communities, and coworking spaces can be powerful tools for reducing loneliness in freelancers. These platforms can provide opportunities for freelancers to connect with others in their industry and create a sense of community.
Networking events, for example, can help freelancers expand their professional networks, meet potential clients or collaborators, and gain new insights and ideas. Online communities, such as social media groups or forums, can provide a virtual space for freelancers to connect with like-minded individuals, share knowledge and experiences, and seek support and advice.
Coworking spaces provide a physical space for freelancers to work alongside others, promoting a sense of camaraderie and reducing feelings of isolation. Many coworking spaces offer social events, such as happy hours or networking events, to help freelancers connect with others and build relationships.
Additionally, some coworking spaces offer specialised communities or niche groups, catering to specific industries or interests, providing further opportunities for connection and community building.
The role of employers
When looking into how loneliness can be reduced we need to take into account the role that employers play. Employers can aid in reducing loneliness in freelancers because they are often the primary source of work and income for freelancers. While freelancers work independently, they often rely on a network of clients and customers to sustain their business. As such, employers can have a significant impact on the well-being of freelancers, both in terms of their job performance and their social connections.
One of the ways that employers can play a role in reducing loneliness in freelancers is by providing resources and support. For example, offering mental health services or counselling can help freelancers manage their psychological well-being and cope with the stress and isolation that can come with freelancing.
Additionally, employers can also provide training on work-life balance, encouraging freelancers to set boundaries between work and personal life and establish a routine that promotes self-care and social connection.
Finally, it is essential for freelancers to take proactive steps to combat loneliness. This includes setting boundaries between work and personal life, establishing a routine that includes breaks and social activities, and creating a social support network outside of work. Engaging in hobbies or activities outside of work can also help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness by providing opportunities for social connection and personal fulfilment.
The nature of freelancing
Overall, reducing loneliness in freelancers requires a multifaceted approach, including support and resources from employers, active engagement in social activities and networks, and proactive self-care strategies. By working together, freelancers, employers, and organisations can create a more connected and supportive environment for freelancers in Europe and beyond.
Loneliness is a widespread issue that affects many people, including freelancers. The nature of freelancing work, which often involves working alone or in isolation, can make it particularly challenging for freelancers to maintain social connections and avoid feelings of loneliness. However, there are many ways in which organisations and society can address this issue.
One way is by promoting social connection and community building. This can be done through networking events, online communities, and coworking spaces, which provide opportunities for freelancers to connect with others in their industry and create a sense of belonging. By fostering a supportive and inclusive environment, organisations and society can help freelancers feel less isolated and more connected to their peers.
Another way is by acknowledging the unique challenges that freelancers face and providing them with the tools they need to manage their well-being. In this way organisations and society can help prevent loneliness and promote healthier and happier lives.
Finally, it is essential for freelancers to take proactive steps to combat loneliness. This includes setting boundaries between work and personal life, establishing a routine that includes breaks and social activities, and creating a social support network outside of work. Freelancers must also prioritise their mental and physical health by engaging in hobbies and other activities that bring them joy and fulfilment.
The issue of loneliness in freelancing is a significant one that requires a multifaceted approach. By working together, organisations, society, and freelancers themselves can create a more supportive and connected environment for freelancers in Europe and beyond. By promoting social connection, providing resources and support, and practising self-care, we can help freelancers lead happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.