Here’s what you need to know about loneliness, and the steps you can take to make things a little bit better
Loneliness is the feeling we get when our needs for social contact and close relationships are not met. We can feel this as sadness, anxiety and worthlessness.
There is an idea that lonely people are elderly and living alone, but recent research shows that young people are twice as likely as those over 70 to be experiencing loneliness at the moment.
It’s likely that most of us will experience some feelings of loneliness in our lives, but certain situations can make us more at risk. For example:
- A mental health condition such as anxiety or depression
- Moving to a new city, or moving to university
- Living alone, or in a household where you don’t get along with family/housemates
- Going through a relationship or friend break-up
- Plus, of course, the pandemic.
The pandemic has provided the perfect environment for feelings of loneliness to grow. The lack of seeing people in person, physical contact and certainty on what’s happening has a really isolating effect.
Remember that it’s impacted on us all, and you are not the only one struggling with loneliness at the moment. Many of the following tips to combat loneliness can be done safely whilst we wait for the pandemic to subside.
How to combat loneliness?
Firstly, we want to stress that there is literally zero shame in feeling lonely. It doesn’t mean you don’t have any friends, or that there’s something wrong with you. It isn’t a reflection on you as a person.
Here are five things you can do to start to feel a little better now.
1. Share your feelings
It is helpful to actually admit to someone that you are feeling lonely. A problem shared is a problem halved, after all. By doing this, it may encourage your friends or family to make more of an effort to message, meet-up and provide support.
2. Socialise with others – no matter how hard it feels
This is honestly the best solution for loneliness. When you’re around people that you get on with and trust, the feelings of isolation should begin to lift. Try to push yourself to arrange activities with friends or family, whether that’s a walk, a coffee date or call. It may help to arrange something regular, such as a video call with a pal every Sunday.
During the pandemic, seeing friends has been extra tricky. Virtual socialisation may not be as fulfilling as in-person, but it will give you some relief from isolation. Group video-calls with your friends or a Netflix party should help you feel connected to others.
Take a look at these practical tips for supporting a friend at the moment, including other things you can do together for fun.
Volunteering is another great way of connecting with new people. There are a few charities looking for young people to call vulnerable people during the pandemic, for example. This offers a good opportunity for social contact, as well as being a good deed.
3. Avoid comparing yourself to others
When we are feeling lonely we might spiral into comparing our lives to others. This is particularly easy on social media, where people are regularly posting about their seemingly ‘perfect’ relationship or numerous outings with mates. During the pandemic, many of us are spending more time online too.
Remember that social media is only the highlight reel of someone’s life, and it doesn’t mean they are always having the wonderful time their pics suggest, or socialising 24/7. If the comparison begins to make you feel lonelier, unfollow or mute these accounts. Here are some amazing ways you can have a more positive time online.
4. Seek professional help
If the feelings of loneliness are becoming very difficult to cope with, arrange an appointment with your GP to discuss it, or consider getting in touch with a therapist.
5. Explore helpful information
Here are some great places to head for more advice, information and support about loneliness and isolation:
- Youth Access, to find local counselling for young people aged 12-25
- The Mix, get support via 1-to1 webchat, email or counselling
Discover Fumble’s pandemic support series
The pandemic has had a huge impact on all of our lives, and we’ve all struggled to understand and digest the changes that continue to happen all around us.
Last reviewed 25 January 2021 | Image Credit: Priscilla Du Preez via Upsplash