On Breaking the Silence: How Dads Can Overcome Loneliness and Thrive in 2023
Dadditude Newsletter #33
This newsletter is trying a new format. We’ll talk about overcoming loneliness, we’ll kick-off a little experiment, and highlight some articles that mentioned fatherhood recently. Let’s go dads!
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Happy New Year Awesome Dads
As we enter the new year, we, at Dadditude, want to take a moment to acknowledge the struggles that many of us dads faced in 2022, particularly in the context of the pandemic. While it has accelerated some positive changes such as more family time, longer paternal leave, and better sharing of home chores, it has also highlighted some persistent imbalances in the way we live and work, and the need for more radical change. The struggles around the pressure to conform to traditional masculinity and the societal expectations of being a provider and protector are still very much present and can make it hard for many of us to take care of ourselves.
You are not alone in your struggles. It's important to remember that seeking help and forming connections is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. Taking care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, is essential in order to be the best you can be for yourself, your families and loved ones.
As we start a new year, remember that you are valued, you are appreciated and you are loved. You are an important part of the community and you deserve to be happy and fulfilled.
Happy New Year to all dads, carers and anyone taking on dad duties out there, may this year bring you joy, peace and lots of happy new memories, and may we work together to make the changes that are needed to build a more equitable and just society.
Dadditude app: Question of the week
Open the app to see other answers from our community, and contribute.
Experiment: Mission of the Month
We’ve been meaning to kick off a series of little self-care missions for dads for a while and this may be it. If you’ve tried our Dad Check-in Survey, you know that one of the questions is about whether you have extra energy for some dad growth, and then offers a list of over 30 actions that you could take on to improve your #dadlife. Well, we’d like to bring some of them over here in the newsletter. This month we’ll tackle Loneliness.
The mission is simple:
Choose one of the 10 tips shared in the feature about Loneliness below.
Make time for it in the next week, and find ways to tackle it in your personal or family life.
Then report on your progress in the app in the discussion thread. You can also share your own tips to inspire other dads and help them get started.
It’s not easy but let’s give it a try!
Breaking the Silence: How Dads Can Overcome Loneliness and Thrive
Loneliness is a growing problem among men, and it's not just a feeling. Recent surveys show that one in four men report feeling lonely, compared to one in five women. This loneliness wave is alarming and it's important for us to take note and take action.
Traditional gender roles and societal expectations of masculinity contribute to some men feeling isolated and unsupported. Once we become dads, the sudden change of pace in our social life can dramatically increases the feeling of isolation, leading to depression or worse.
Many of us don’t necessarily notice at first, or know what to do once the new family structure has destroyed our regular routine and outings. There is also a progressive split that happens with our childless friends. And before we know it, we’re left with almost no buddies and no clear idea on how to revert the trend. Since men are generally not comfortable sharing their feelings or seeking support from mental health professionals, it’s easier than for women to get trapped into a cycle of isolation.
The impact of loneliness on our mental and physical health can be severe. Loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide. There is plenty written on the subject of men and suicide. It can also have negative effects on physical health, such as increased risk of heart disease and stroke. The CDC write that loneliness is as much a risk factor for premature death as smoking.
As we enter 2023, and if you’ve recognized yourself even a little bit in the descriptions above (or if you know a dad who fits the description, forward this to them), then let’s find ways to combat loneliness together. We’ve listed 10 tips below. Most of them are very obvious and the hard work will be to get started, but our community is here for that.
Reach out to friends and family more often: Make an effort to reconnect with people you've lost touch with, or to strengthen existing relationships. You can start by adding regular reminders in your online calendar. Be open about your intent and see where it takes you.
Join a group or club: Joining a group or club with people who share your interests can be a great way to make new friends and form new connections. It doesn’t even need to be in person, especially for new dads who have little time to spare. Try online interest groups, or even forums.
Volunteer: Volunteering for a cause you're passionate about can be a great way to meet new people and feel like you're making a difference. There are plenty of opportunities to do so and it’s often credited as being a key to increased happiness.
Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally is important for maintaining good mental health. This is not just for women and mothers! Short sessions of home gym using bodyweight, regular short breaks, regular drinking, less sugar intake, breathing exercises, journaling, there are many ways to practice self-care.
Seek professional help: If you're struggling hard with feelings of loneliness, it's important to seek help from a mental health professional. Your GP might be able to refer you but these days, waiting lists can make it difficult to get prompt help. It’s not the cheapest route, but the impact can be formidable.
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices can help you stay present in the moment and feel more connected to yourself and others. Many apps are available to help you get started. Try Calm or Headspace.
Make a plan: Make a plan to do something social or fun each week to help you stay connected to others (including other dads or your partner). Try reaching out to some of the dads in your kids’ classes. Maybe start a monthly “PTA Dads” call? Hit a new trail or a new coffee shop every week and invite someone new each time?
Be open and authentic: Be open and authentic with others, share your feelings and thoughts, and invite them to do the same. This applies to your relationship to your children too. Needless to say that this is an essential ingredient.
Be open to new experiences: Trying new things can help you meet new people and broaden your social circle, as well as provide awesome stories to share with your kids. The daily grind can be very heavy. What would a younger you want to do? Give it a try!
Take time for yourself daily: Make sure to carve out a little bit of time for yourself on a daily basis. Start with a few minutes and increase as time permits. Block time in your calendar and plan it in advance with your partner.
So? Anything in this list that you could imagine trying soon? Do you feel like joining our Monthly Mission tribe?
It's important to remember that seeking help and forming connections is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. As Dr. John Cacioppo, a leading researcher on loneliness said: "Loneliness is not a character flaw. It's a signal that something is missing in a person's relationships." By breaking the silence and taking action to overcome loneliness, we can thrive and become better versions of ourselves.
Let’s do this together. See you in the app.
We’ve enjoyed reading:
And you can find more articles on fatherhood in the Dadditude app.
More men want to be stay-at-home dads and better fathers. Why won’t politicians help them? Data shows that many are ready to change their own lives and ultimately society. They just need policies to speed that process
Do Facebook mom groups stress women out? Experts say yes. Afterward, researchers found that the spikes in cortisol were likely due to “negative interactions with other moms on social networking sites and more time spent with these interactions.”
Remote Work Is Helping Dads Do More at Home. Let's Make Sure It Stays That Way. I have heard from many moms that their partners are now participating more in meal prep, grocery shopping, laundry, dish washing, after-school activities, and school pick-up.
Throwback: Dadditude Newsletter #17: On Putting Dads in the Picture, With Sophie Harris-Taylor
Have You Checked-In With Your ‘Dad Self’ This Week?
It’s important to check-in with yourself on a regular basis. Take a moment and reflect on the good, the bad, and the blowouts.
Thanks for reading!
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