This week is Loneliness Awareness Week in the UK, a campaign founded by the Marmalde Trust charity, who are dedicated to recognising loneliness and helping people make new friendships.
After the events of the past year, more people have experienced feelings of loneliness than ever before, particularly due to the lockdowns and social distancing measures in place for many months at a time. For many people across the UK however, loneliness is a common experience regardless of the pandemic, and it’s important that we highlight ways that people can make positive connections in their life and tackle this issue. Connection is one of the five key elements of our wellbeing, so it’s important to maintain some healthy relationships for our mental health.
For this blog we are taking a look at ten ways that you can try and defeat those feelings of loneliness, and perhaps help others feeling lonely at the same time too through meaningful connection. Give them a try!
1. Accept your feelings
Acceptance is a very important aspect in wellbeing and mental health. We need to accept the negative parts of our life to develop the true resilience to live a balanced and enjoyable life, despite the difficulties we will face.
Accepting these feelings of loneliness when they appear, with an understanding that they will pass and there are better times ahead will help you to cope with them when they arise.
4. Find an online community
One of the many joys to the modern ages of the internet is how easy it is to connect with people from all over the world and find communities that really matter to you.
With a quick Google search you can find message boards and forums on almost any topic you can think of. If you’re like coin collecting, flying kites, video games, fishing, birdwatching, baking… you name it – there is an online community out there for you!
Volunteering is not only a great way of meeting lots of new people, giving back to the community is proven to have a range of wellbeing benefits.
Take a look around for some local charities, or Volunteering websites to find some available opportunities.
9. Practice Self Care
Although it can be easy to feel unmotivated during lonely periods, practicing some good self care will keep your wellbeing in balance and improve your mood.
Making sure you continue to stick to a routine, eat well, exercise, keep yourself clean and tidy and keep your home in a good condition will all support your general wellbeing while you wait for the lonely feelings to pass.
2. Look for local or online events
By searching a range different resources like Facebook Events, Eventbrite, Meetup and more, you can find a range of different events in your local community or in an online setting if you feel more comfortable staying at home at the moment.
Depending on your interests you may find a variety of events for hobbies like walking, music, sport, theatre, craft and many more. Attending events will help you to feel more connected to other people who share similar interests.
7. Contact a charity or support organisation
There’s a wide range of charities and organisations across the UK that can support you if you are unsure of how relieve your loneliness. There is a page here that lists 15 organisations to get you started.
Support services will be able to signpost you to different aids such as befriending services, community hubs, and other ways of meeting people and getting the connection you need.
3. Get out and about and speak to people
With summer bringing some beautiful weather recently, there’s no better time to get out and about and explore your local park, towns and other areas to find new places.
When you’re out and about, saying hello to people you pass and commenting on the area or the weather will strike up some conversations and help to relieve some feelings of loneliness building up inside. Also, getting outside in itself is a great mood booster!
5. Pick up the phone
Think of a good friend that you know cares a lot about you and will be able to chat to you about some good times and positive things. You could perhaps mention you have been feeling lonely and arrange to have more regular contact and reconnect with friends from the past.
Reaching out to people for support may feel difficult at first, but the more times we speak out about our struggles the easier it becomes to be honest with other people about how we feel. They may feel similarly too and will surely be glad to hear from you.
8. Make a list of activities
Sometimes the feeling of loneliness can appear at the most unexpected times, and there may not be anybody available to peak to, especially if it is late at night.
Making a list of some fun activities like watching one of our favourite TV shows, reading a book or playing a game to pass the time until you feel more settled.
10. Help other lonely people
If you are feeling lonely, then there are others out there in the same position who could also really do with some extra connection and support in difficult times.
By becoming a befriender yourself, not only will you be supporting someone going through a difficult time, but also you will be tackling your own loneliness in a proactive and kind way.