Life-Stuff.orgFacts & advice for
Loneliness is about not feeling part of life – Someone might feel that they are not connected to people, or don’t belong. Moving away from home for the first time and missing family and friends, leaving school or starting a new job can be really stressful and isolating.
Being lonely isn’t good for us, we can feel anxiety, stress and depression, it can affect our self-esteem, and we can think that people won’t want to talk to us or be friends. But remember, nearly half of 16 to 24 year olds (2 in 5) say they feel lonely often or very often, so it’s much more usual than people realise. That doesn’t make it any easier, but knowing you’re not the only one feeling alone might be reassuring.
A person can be surrounded by people and yet feel completely disconnected and lonely. They might be physically on their own and feel that there is no-one to talk to about how they are feeling. Even with shed loads of friends on social media, someone may feel totally isolated.
Social media and technology can also make loneliness worse. Sometimes it can help us to make new friends and connections, and meet people who share our interests and passions, but it cannot replace real face-to-face contact and interaction. If it does, it can be isolating and make us feel worse.
“Be brave and reach out to someone. It doesn’t have to be face-to-face; you could share a post on social media.”
Think about what you would like to spend more time doing. Do you want to connect with friends or family? Arrange to do something with them. You could also share your skills and time with others; volunteering is a fantastic way to make new friends. Join a community event; the Nextdoor app is a great way to find out what is happening in your local area. If you have a passion for something – swimming, walking, reading – join a local club to meet like-minded people.
Remember that different things work for different people at different times. Only try what you feel comfortable with, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If something isn’t working for you (or doesn’t feel possible just now), you can try something else, take a look at our steps to better well being.
Try to open up – You might feel that you know plenty of people, but what is actually wrong is that you don’t feel close to them, or they don’t give you the care and attention you need. In this situation, it might help to open up about how you feel to friends and family. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to the people you know, you could try speaking with a therapist or a using a peer support service.
Try a befriender service such as befriending.co.uk. Various charities offer telephone befriender servicers, which put volunteer befrienders in touch with people feeling lonely.
Join an online community like Side by Side. These communities can provide a place to listen and share with others who have similar experiences. They are available 24/7, most are free and you can access.
Tips to combat loneliness – Psychologists suggest nine ways to help us feel less lonely
The anatomy of loneliness – This clip helps explain who feels lonely and why
Read next Anxiety and depression