Loneliness is a feeling that many people have experienced at some point in their lives. Those who have felt loneliness will know that it is not a nice feeling, and it can be excruciating. Feelings of loneliness usually pass, but it can lead to chronic loneliness if they persist.
Why do People Feel Lonely?
There are many reasons why someone may feel lonely such as:
- change of school
- working from home
- ending a relationship
- living alone for the first time
- moving to a new location
- low self-esteem/confidence
- starting university
- living with a mental illness such as depression and anxiety
You may have a vast social network but find it challenging to make meaningful connections, so even being surrounded by people may still leave you feeling lonely. Loneliness is ‘feeling’ alone, not ‘being’ alone.
Living with a mental illness can increase the chance of you feeling lonely. This may be due to feeling too exhausted to participate in social activities. Or, if you suffer from social anxiety, you may become too anxious to be around others, causing you to isolate and increasing the risk of feeling lonely.
Anyone can feel lonely, but some groups are at a higher risk of loneliness, such as people who experience discrimination due to their gender, sexual orientation, disability, or race. People who belong to a minority group and live in an area where there are not many people from a similar background are also at higher risk of feeling lonely.
Symptoms of Loneliness
- feelings of emptiness or sadness
- difficulty concentrating
- withdrawal from social activities
- an overwhelming feeling of isolation
- difficulty staying motivated
- self-harm or feelings of suicide
- substance misuse
- insomnia or sleep issues
- increased feeling restless or anxious
- decreased energy
- feelings of self-doubt, hopelessness, or worthlessness
What Can You Do To Help With Loneliness?
Reach out to others. Spend more time with friends and family. Don’t suffer in silence. Tell friends and/or family how you are feeling.
If you have moved to a new school and feel lonely, speak to a teacher or support worker.
If you have moved to a new area, try going to the local community centre to see if they have any activities that you may be interested in. This is a great way to meet new people. Why not do a yoga class? You will be meeting new people and feeling the benefits of exercise!
Meditation. Some of the most well-known benefits include reducing stress and anxiety, improving focus and concentration, and promoting overall well-being. If you feel lonely, reducing your stress levels will help. You will be more likely to want to go out and meet or be around people if you are feeling less stressed and anxious.
Seek out professional help. A therapist or counsellor can help you identify the underlying causes of your loneliness and develop strategies for overcoming it. With the proper support, you can learn to manage your feelings of loneliness and lead a happier, more fulfilling life.
Try pursuing new hobbies or interests.
Join a support group for people who are experiencing similar feelings
Make time for self-care activities. Self-care is so important. I don’t think any of us get anywhere near enough of it! Book a massage, go to the beach, paint your nails, light a candle, go to the gym. Anything that makes you feel good about yourself.
Exercise has been shown to have a beneficial influence on mental health. While exercise alone may not cure loneliness, it can help you feel better as a whole and increase your feelings of wellness, which might help protect you from loneliness.
If you have suicidal thoughts, it is essential to get assistance as soon as possible. You may contact a crisis helpline, contact a loved one, or visit your local emergency department.
The Samaritans are available 24/7. Free phone them on 0330 094 5717.