Your Mental Health: Dealing with Loneliness

Earlier this week was World Mental Health Day, a day to open up and discuss our mental health and share advice. At this time of year, many people may be experiencing loneliness.

Loneliness is not the same as being alone. Some people enjoy their own company and live happily without contact from other people. But some people may find this a lonely experience. Loneliness is best described as ‘the feeling we get when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships is not met.’ (Mind.org.uk, 2022)

Feeling lonely isn’t considered a mental health problem but having a mental health problem can increase your chance of feeling lonely, and feeling lonely can increase your chances of feeling low, depressed or anxious.

Loneliness affects 9% of the UK Population which is around 4 million people and this number is on the rise.

There can be many reasons why loneliness occurs, for example, going through a relationship break-up or experiencing a bereavement, changing jobs, retiring, starting University or moving to a new county or new area without friends or family.

Some people find certain times of the year makes them lonely, for example Christmas or winter time.

If you are suffering with feelings of loneliness, we have a few tips of things you can try to increase your mood:

  • Make new connections – You could join a class or group based on your hobbies or interests. Volunteering is also a good way to make new connections.
  • Try to open up and talk – You might know lots of people but not have anyone to open up to about your true feelings. Talking to friends and family about things that are bothering you, or even speaking with a therapist can help you not feel so alone.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others – It’s very easy to compare ourselves to peers and strangers, especially on social media. Remember not everything is always as it seems and people tend to only share the highlights of their lives online.
  • Look after yourself – feeling lonely can be stressful. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, exercise and are eating a balanced diet. Avoiding drink and drugs and try to get plenty of fresh air. Spending time outside and with animals can do wonders for your overall mental health.

Do you have any tips on how to feel less lonely? Have you recently joined a group or found new connections to share your hobbies with? We would be interested in hearing about your experience.

If you feel you may be suffering from anxiety and/or depression, it is important to talk to your GP and get help and support to make you feel better.

If you’re feeling particularly low, there is always someone to talk to via The Samaritans or via NHS111.

 

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