Loneliness can take many forms and affect us all in different ways. It is also important to remember that people do not have to be physically alone or have a specific reason to feel lonely, and certain people may feel loneliness even when in the company of others.
Loneliness is defined as a subjective experience which can be triggered by a person’s loss in social network, whether that be the number of relationships the person has, or the quality of these connections.
There are however, things you can do to reduce feelings of loneliness. Using the most up to date research, we have put together some useful advice on ways to deal with these feelings.
If you don’t have an existing support network, you may want to invest your time in creating new connections.
There are many ways you can meet new people, these include through volunteering, joining a sports team, or an activity such as a film or book club. Ask around or check your local council website to see what is available.
You can also meet people with common values and interests online through virtual communities, you will find these on platforms such as Reddit or Facebook.
Another way to get to know new people is to strike up a conversation with those around you, this could be a work colleague, a neighbour or a stranger in the street. If you struggle with starting new conversations, you may want to check out these tips from the Be More Us campaign.
Whilst this may seem intuitive, maintaining close relationships is an effective way of dealing with life’s challenges and reinforcing our sense of social belonging. If you don’t have an immediate support network, reconnecting with old friends might be a good way to achieve this.
One of the benefits of modern-day technology is that you can still communicate through messaging and video calls if you are unable to do this face to face.
Another way of reinforcing existing relationships is by opening up to a trusted friend or family member for support, and letting them know how you feel. You can find further advice for opening up to others about your mental health on the Mind website.
You may have seen our recent post explaining the benefits of expressing gratitude. Research shows that partaking in daily gratitude tasks can play a role in reducing feelings of loneliness. The Wheel of Wellbeing website provides an example of a simple task which you can take part in to show gratitude to those around you.
Mental health and loneliness are closely interlinked, for this reason it is important to ensure you are also taking care of your own wellbeing.
For information on how you can promote your personal wellbeing, check out our freely accessible wellbeing course. This course is based on the evidence based Wheel of Wellbeing framework which explores happiness through six lifestyle components: Body, Mind, Spirit, People, Place and Planet.
Older adults are particularly vulnerable to loneliness due to social isolation. There are a number of support lines which are maintained by friendly volunteers. Examples include The Silver Line where callers can be matched with volunteers who share their interest for regular calls, the line is available 24/7 and the service is free. Another example of free support are AgeUK befriending services, where elderly adults can be connected with people in their local area for face to face friendship.
If you are in a situation where you feel you might need professional help, MIND proposes a number of ways to access different forms of Peer support. The NHS also provides a mood assessment tool to help you identify how you are feeling and where you can seek further support.
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