This year the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is Loneliness. Loneliness is affecting more and more of us in the UK. With our work and personal lives becoming more digital than ever before. Our connection to other people is fundamental to protecting our mental health and wellbeing.
What is loneliness?
Loneliness is not always the same as being alone – what might cause someone to feel lonely will vary from person to person. For example, you may work from home and be perfectly happy, while others may find this a lonely experience. Or you may be in a relationship and see friends often and still feel lonely –especially if you don't feel understood or cared for by the people around you. Loneliness isn’t always easy to detect, especially when we are all behind screens and scrolling through social media where we can’t always see the full picture.
Coping with loneliness
Reach out and get support by talking to someone experienced.
Talking through your feelings with a counsellor or therapist can help you cope with your feelings of loneliness. Talking therapy can be hard to get – but if you can find a professional, it can really be of benefit. It’ll provide you with a safe space to work through your feelings and thoughts without judgement. Check out your local resources by visiting the NHS website.
Read a book, listen to a podcast or the radio
Making new friends by volunteering or starting a conversation with someone new
There is lots of evidence that volunteering benefits the volunteer, as well as the person being helped. Also try to make a bit more effort to get out and about. Talk to your neighbours; try to become friendly with someone nearby. Even a smile and a hello in a shop could make someone’s day.
Take a new hobby or join a social club or group in your local community
It can be hard to connect with others when you’re feeling lonely. But there are great benefits in finding people who have similar interests to you or live in the same area, as the initial conversation may be easier to have. Interacting with others that ‘get’ you can give you a sense of belonging that may be missing.
Re-connecting with someone from your past
Dealing with loneliness can be difficult. But there are things we can all do to cope with loneliness and prevent some of the negative feelings and mental health problems that can come with it.
Written by Abigail Attenborough