9-15 May 2022 - Loneliness
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation
For Mental Health Awareness Week this year, the Mental Health Foundation are raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental health and the practical steps we can take to address it.
Dealing with loneliness can be difficult. But there are things we can all do to cope with loneliness and prevent some of the negative feelings and mental health problems that can come with it.
Help and advice on how to cope with loneliness and improve your mental health
1. Try to do some enjoyable things that will keep you busy
One way of trying to manage loneliness is by keeping busy and doing things we enjoy. This might be a hobby such as a bit of gardening, going to the gym or even sorting out your kitchen cupboards, jigsaws, puzzles or knitting. Small activities can give you energy and positive feelings. It’s important these things are fun or fulfilling.
Be careful about working too hard or watching TV shows simply as a distraction. These will only delay or suppress your feelings and could actually make your mental health worse.
2. Try to do things that stimulate your mind
Activities that occupy your mind can help with loneliness. This can include the benefits of taking courses or listening to podcasts on topics from comedy to fitness. This can be stimulating and something as simple as listening to the familiar voice of someone you like can help you feel less lonely.
3. Think about doing a physical activity
Physical exercise can help with loneliness. It can be as simple as having a walk in the park when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Alternatively, you could listen to music and do a bit of dancing around your living room. (Be aware of your neighbours though!)
4. Try to engage with the people you meet in your daily life.
It can be hard to talk to others when you’re feeling lonely. However, trying to connect with the people you meet as you go about your day can be helpful. Even catching someone’s eye and saying “hi” as you walk along can make you feel better. Or it could be about saying hello to the postwomen or postman or going to the shops and talking to the person at the checkout. By sharing a polite greeting – you might find you give someone else a positive lift too.
5. Find people that ‘get you’
It can be hard to connect with others when you’re feeling lonely. But there are great benefits in finding people who have been through similar experiences to you. Interacting with others that ‘get’ you can give you a sense of belonging that may be missing. People who have been there have found connections in local groups or social media.
6. Spend time with pets
If you are lucky enough to have a pet, it can be a great way of managing loneliness. Not only do animals provide us with unconditional love and support, but they also help to give structure to our days and even encourage us to get out and connect with others. Interaction with pets is also shown to help reduce stress levels.
7. Try to use social media in a positive way
Social media can help your mental health. But it can also affect it negatively. The key is to use it in a positive way. Finding digital communities, you share interests and passions with can help. Most importantly be aware of how you feel when you use social media and focus on topics and activities that work best for you.
8. Talking therapies can help
Talking through your feelings with a counsellor or therapist can help you cope with your feelings of loneliness. Talking therapy can be hard to get – but if you can find a professional, it can really be of benefit. It’ll provide you with a safe space to work through your feelings and thoughts without judgement. Check out your local resources by visiting the NHS website.