We have all experienced feelings of loneliness at some point in our lives. Being away from family members, moving to a new area, entering an event where we don’t really know anybody – these are all situations where we might have felt lonely or isolated.
But for others, loneliness is an everyday occurrence and something which the Covid-19 pandemic might have exacerbated even further. Social distancing, isolation periods and the closure of organised social group meetings mean that some of us are feeling lonelier than ever before. Barnados estimates that this currently accounts for a fifth of the UK population.
Also, bear in mind that loneliness doesn’t always mean that we are alone. We can be part of a relationship, part of a family, part of a team – but still feel lonely within this situation. The feelings associated with loneliness are truly unique to each and every one of us.
So, how can we cope with the feelings and emotions that loneliness brings? Below are some tips that you could try. Remembering that different things work for different people, and also at different times in their lives, depending on the situation.
Be kind to yourself
Feeling lonely can have a big impact on your mental health and wellbeing. Therefore, a good starting point is to take a look at your wellbeing routine to see if there is anything that you could try to improve on.
Think about your diet and what you eat and drink. Eating healthily and regularly can have a huge impact on your energy levels and mental wellbeing. Avoid alcohol and drugs – while these might seem like good ways to cope with feelings of loneliness, they are only short-term crutches. In the long term, they can make you feel worse and even more isolated when the effects wear off.
Try to do some physical activity each day. And, add variety to your activity schedule. Run, walk, swim, cycle or practise yoga. There are also some great videos and online fitness lessons online that can make you feel part of a group scenario, even if you are alone at home. Also, try to spend time outside. Being in green space can help your wellbeing and enhance feelings of happiness and gratitude.
Finally, think about whether you are getting enough sleep. Getting too little or too much sleep can have a big impact on how you feel during the day.
Make a new connection
If you are feeling lonely because of a lack of social contact in your life, then making just one new connection could make a huge difference. Would you consider trying to join a class or group based on your hobbies or interests? Whether it’s a virtual book club, an outdoor painting class or a local running club – being part of a group can introduce you to new like-minded people who could become good friends.
Volunteering is also a good way of meeting people. Helping others has helped many people to ease feelings of isolation and sadness. Why not look for volunteering jobs at your local park or National Trust location? Or see if there are any part-time vacancies at your nearest art gallery or museum? There isn’t always a long-term commitment, so you can try it and see if it works for you.
It’s now easier than ever to feel connected. Social media and online forums make connection accessible and available any time of day. You can reunite with old friends, make new contacts with similar interests and search for videos and photos that make you happy and motivated. There are also many online communities such as Side by Side, which offer a place to listen and share with others who have similar experiences as you.
Taking therapy allows you to open up, explore and understand your feelings of loneliness a little better. It can also help you to develop positive ways of dealing with these feelings. Talking to someone in a professional environment gives you a space to discuss problems, relationship issues and past events without judgement or fear of others finding out.
If you have anxiety about being in social situations, then cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may also help you to overcome certain fears. This type of therapy focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour and offers coping skills for dealing with different problems.
Talking therapy has helped many people who feel lonely and isolated. If you are thinking about how it could benefit you, then please feel free to give me a call on 07787 831 275 for a free consultation or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email you back.