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Loneliness

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just older people who are affected by Loneliness. 80% of under 18 year olds talk about loneliness compared to 40% of the over 65s.  It’s a common problem amongst people of all ages & backgrounds and yet it’s something that most of us are hesitant to talk about.  But loneliness is nothing to feel ashamed about. Sometimes, it’s a result of external circumstances: you’ve moved to a new area, for example, or it could be that you struggle with shyness, social insecurity, or a long-standing difficulty making friends.

In this post we look at some tips around loneliness:

Friends & Family – sometimes you can’t have a relationship with your family or friends for various reasons. Maybe your loved one has passed away, you’ve moved away or things have just broken down. Either way it’s important to make new friends and a good way to do this is by joining a group, a club or a class, by starting new or picking up old hobbies.  As well as local sports or social clubs, there are groups like GirlCrew or Meet Up where you can join different groups and make friends based on mutual interests.

Being an introvert or having anxiety – sometimes our mental health can impact our sociability. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your own company, but we are relational creatures – meaning we do need some interactions with people. But for some people, they can feel at their loneliest in a crowd. For those struggling with anxiety and loneliness, there is a group called Step Out that have weekly and monthly meet ups. You can find out more about them here.  You may also find some good tips in our 3Ts Self Help eBooklet on Social Anxiety.  This is free to view, download or listen to in audio and is one of a range of 3Ts eBooklets on a broad range of mental health issues. 

Volunteering – another way to meet new people is volunteering. You get to give something back, which makes you feel good and you can spend time with other volunteers. Volunteering is also good for your mental health, in that it gives you a greater sense of gratitude and satisfaction. And if you volunteer with animals, they’re proven to improve mental health too.  

Pets – on that note, consider getting a pet to share your time with. Pets decrease levels of anxiety and foster motivation and a sense of achievement in their owners.  If you choose a dog, as well as making a good companion, bringing your dog for a walk is a good way to meet people.

Be persistent – even if one group has not worked out for you, keep trying. As we get older and move from college to career, or job to job, we change and so do our friends, and that’s OK. Try to meet new people throughout your life in different areas; through work, hobbies, volunteering, etc.

Remember that loneliness impacts our mental health but mental health can also impact our feelings of loneliness. So if you or someone you know finds themselves in a situation of isolation or loneliness, make the decision to do something about it. These tips are a good place to start.