How to cope with loneliness
If you feel lonely, following the tips below will help you get started and move in the right direction:
1. Making new connections is arguably the most obvious way to combat loneliness, but it can really help. Joining a group or class you are interested in will increase your chances of meeting like-minded people to make friends with. For example, joining an exercise club is a great way to socialise and can give your mental health a boost. Increasingly too we are turning to the internet for companionship, with community groups existing in almost every niche interest group you could imagine.
2. Be more open. If you have a fairly big social circle but don't feel truly close to any of them, the underlying issue may be that you need to open up more. Letting your friend or acquaintance in on your vulnerability or honest opinion can help to deepen your connection with them.
3. Stop comparing yourself with others. The desire to ‘keep up with the Joneses' is not a new one, however the rise of social media has exacerbated the problem by giving people the chance to constantly compare themselves with their peers. If you’re already feeling lonely, the idea that everyone else’s life is more idyllic than yours can make you feel even more isolated and alone. This can lead us to ‘compare and despair’ – which only exacerbates our negative experiences. Remind yourself that people only share what they want others to see about their lives. Don’t form unrealistic expectations about life and friendships based on what you see online.
4. Keep all lines of communication open. Having a chat with a friend or relative over the phone can be the next best thing to being with them. Or you can stay connected with loved ones online. Talk on a video call, exchange photos and keep up to date with the latest news from friends and family on social media or by email.
5. Helping others is also a popular route to meet people, improve your mental health and do good for wider society. You'll not only give something back to your community, but it will also help you to feel more connected, involved and needed. There are lots of volunteering roles that need your skills and experience.
6. Pride comes before a fall. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask for help, companionship or just a chat. They may be feeling lonely too!
7. Take it slow. If you've felt lonely for a while, or experience anxiety around new social situations, throwing yourself in at the deep end could exacerbate the problem. Instead, dip your toes into the water first by going to a local café or sports event where you are surrounded by people, and just enjoy sharing their company. Or try a class where you can dive into the activity itself to distract you from the pressure of introducing yourself to people straight away. With loneliness, slow and steady often wins the race.