Tackling Loneliness this Mental Health Week
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year the theme is ‘loneliness’.
One in four of us feel lonely at some point in our lives, and some people feel lonely all the time. We are all different and feel this way for various reasons – so there’s no one solution for everyone. The longer we feel lonely, the more likely we are to have mental health issues so it’s important to address it and understand how to support others.
Here are some strategies if you feel lonely:
By keeping busy you can tackle the feeling of being lonely. If you can find an activity that takes your mind elsewhere it will help – walking, running, the gym, arts and crafts, reading, podcasts, writing…there are so many things you can do that will give you a sense of achievement and improve your energy. Try to avoid watching TV – this can make you feel lethargic and unable to leave the house. By stimulating your mind you can calm negative thoughts.
Confide in others
Don’t shut people out – even though it’s probably what your default will be. This can make you feel worse – so try and open up to people and get support. Even just a ‘hello’ to a stranger can help. If you surround yourself with the right people, your feeling of loneliness may subside.
Pets are therapy. Unconditional love, company and companionship can really improve your feeling of loneliness. If you have the budget, time and inclination a cat, dog or even smaller animal can provide you with a real boost and a dog will encourage you to get out of the house and inject some structure into your routine.
Take a tech break
Although social media allows us to connect with people, it can also make us feel even lonelier as we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others who look like they are having the time of their lives! Just remember, what we see isn’t always the reality. Try and take a tech break and do something more creative.
Talking to a therapist about how you feel can really help and provide a safe space in which to talk through your feelings of loneliness.
How to support other people who are feeling lonely:
If you have friends or acquaintances who you know are feeling lonely, don’t judge. There’s a lot of stigma but the fact is, loneliness and mental health issues in general are very common. Try to be welcoming and invite people to join groups or activities. By showing some understanding you can change someone’s life and give them hope that they are being heard and understood.