WELLBEING

Found a good resource, video or course on this topic? Let us know and we will add it to this site! 

LONELINESS

WHAT IS LONELINESS?

Loneliness is an unpleasant emotional response to perceived isolation. Loneliness is also described as social pain—a psychological mechanism which motivates individuals to seek social connections. It is often associated with an unwanted lack of connection and intimacy.

 

We all feel lonely from time to time. Feelings of loneliness are personal, so everyone's experience of loneliness will be different.

One common description of loneliness is the feeling we get when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships is not met. But loneliness is not always the same as being alone.

 

You may choose to be alone and live happily without much contact with other people, while others may find this a lonely experience. Or you may have lots of social contact, or be in a relationship or part of a family, and still feel lonely – especially if you don't feel understood or cared for by the people around you. 

 

It can be hard to find friends who get us or can relate to our experiences. Social media can make us feel extremely isolated, especially if we are being bullied or feel disconnected from the ‘perfect lives’ we see. Even if we have loads of followers, it can feel like everyone else is surrounded by friends and loved ones and having a good time; this can make things feel much harder when we are feeling alone and not sure who to turn to for support.

WHAT CAUSES LONELINESS?

One common description of loneliness is the feeling we get when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships is not met. But loneliness is not always the same as being alone.

 

We all experience feeling lonely in different ways. This means there is a range of ways we can try to overcome loneliness, and we need to identify the help and support that works for us. It's really important to remember that loneliness and difficult feelings can pass.

 

While loneliness is a feeling we can all relate to, sometimes admitting we feel lonely is much harder. We want people to talk more openly about feeling lonely and the impact that loneliness can have.

 

Sometimes it can feel easier to reach out to someone else who may be feeling lonely. You may choose to be alone and live happily without much contact with other people, while others may find this a lonely experience. Or you may have lots of social contacts, or be in a relationship or part of a family, and still feel lonely – especially if you don't feel understood or cared for by the people around you.

CAN LONELINESS AFFECT MENTAL HEALTH?

Feeling lonely isn't in itself a mental health problem, but the two are strongly linked. Having a mental health problem can increase your chance of feeling lonely. Or you may experience social phobia – also known as social anxiety – and find it difficult to engage in everyday activities involving other people, which could lead to a lack of meaningful social contact and cause feelings of loneliness.

 

Feeling lonely can also have a negative impact on your mental health, especially if these feelings have lasted a long time. Some research suggests that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems and increased stress.

Loneliness has many different causes, which vary from person to person. We don't always understand what it is about an experience that makes us feel lonely.

WHAT CAN CAUSES LONELINESS?

Loneliness has no common cause. Sometimes it can be triggered by a life event or change in the situation, or it may not be triggered by anything at all.

For some people, certain life events may mean they feel lonely. Other people find they feel lonely at certain times of the year, such as around Christmas. Some people experience deep and constant feelings of loneliness that come from within and do not disappear, regardless of their social situation or how many friends they have.

For some people, certain life events may mean they feel lonely, such as:

 

  • experiencing a bereavement

  • going through a relationship break-up

  • retiring and losing the social contact you had at work

  • changing jobs and feeling isolated from your co-workers

  • starting at university

  • moving to a new area or country without family, friends or community networks.

  • Other people find they feel lonely at certain times of the year, such as around Christmas.

WHO FEELS LONELINESS MOST OFTEN?

Some research suggests that people who live in certain circumstances or belong to particular groups are more vulnerable to loneliness. For example, if you:

 

  • have no friends or family

  • are estranged from your family

  • are a single parent or care for someone else – you may find it hard to maintain a social life

  • belong to minority groups and live in an area without others from a similar background

  • are excluded from social activities due to mobility problems or a shortage of money

  • experience discrimination and stigma because of a disability or long-term health problem, including mental health problems

  • experience discrimination and stigma because of your gender, race or sexual orientation 

  • have experienced sexual or physical abuse – you may find it harder to form close relationships with other people.

WHAT CAN HELP?

'Self-help' tips don't solve the issue. However, they can help you/others feel more in control when experiencing strong emotions. 

If you find that 'self-help' isn't enough, consider reaching out to a counsellor or your GP for help managing overwhelming emotions. 

01

Keep in touch with those around you. Talk to friends and family. Sometimes a friendly chat can make a big difference, whether someone is around the corner or further away.

You can also reach out to someone you trust. Being able to talk about how you feel with others can help with loneliness, and hearing a familiar voice or seeing a friendly face makes us feel less isolated.

Messaging old friends or colleagues, or setting up a group chat on a messaging app like WhatsApp or Messenger may help them and you feel more connected

02

Get into the routine of reaching out to others. Make sure to check in regularly – most of us love hearing from people we have lost contact with. Creating a routine of checking in with others and being more sociable can be good, as it can make it easier to reach out at the time you feel lonely.

03

Keeping a journal can help you to track your mood and reading over it might help you to see things that keep happening in your life that you might need some help with. Some people like to express themselves through drawing, painting, music, fashion or sport.

04

Follow your passions. If there is something you absolutely love there will be other people out there who feel the same. This can open opportunities for you to meet like-minded people

 

Find a group with a shared interest. Being part of an offline or online group or club is a great way to make connections and meet people. Think about activities that you would like to try out and look for groups centred around these. 

 

You don’t have to be good at something to give it a go and enjoy it. A regular hobby with other people can help you build new friendships and have fun

05

Focus on self-love. Spending time alone might not seem fun, but the more time you spend doing things you enjoy and being kind to yourself the more confident you will feel. It’s ok to have time just for yourself. Filling your time doing more things you like can stop you from focusing on feelings of loneliness and is good for your wellbeing.

06

Look after yourself. Sleep, diet, and exercise all play a part in your general well-being. Try to avoid drugs, alcohol and smoking.

 

Spending time outdoors in green space, doing exercise and listening to podcasts and radio shows are just some of the ways to boost your mood and occupy your mind.

07

Express your feelings. It is important to have ways to express yourself, even if right now you don’t have people close to you who you can talk to.

You can also speak to your GP about how you’re feeling. They can listen, tell you about local services and support groups, or they may suggest specific treatment for the way you’re feeling.

08

Try not to compare yourself with others. Remember that many people may only share the good things happening to them on social media, so comparing can make you feel lonelier.

It is very hard to stop comparing ourselves to others. We all do it, but it can help to just be aware that things are not always what they seem from the outside. It's important to remind yourself that you don't know how other people feel when they are alone, or when their social media feeds are turned off

09

Remember that feeling lonely for a long time can make it harder for people to make new connections. It may be difficult for people experiencing loneliness to respond to your friendly contact at first, so be patient and kind.

10

Think about making time to volunteer – it's a great way to learn new skills, give back to the community, feel good about yourself and meet people to connect with. Seeing the benefits of your actions can really help to boost your mental wellbeing.

EXTERNAL INFORMATION, SUPPORT AND ADVICE

To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom