5 Tips for Coping with Loneliness
It’s normal to feel lonely from time to time, and it can happen even if you’re not physically alone, but it can sometimes turn into a daily reality rather than a passing feeling. Persistent loneliness is associated with many health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and drug or alcohol abuse, and at times it can seem impossible to overcome. There are several steps you can take to cope with loneliness and overcome it, though, and even making a small change can lead to a notable improvement in your day-to-day well-being.
1: Find a New Hobby or Activity to Engage in
There are many benefits to hobbies and activities when you’re struggling with loneliness, from simply giving you something to occupy your mind when you’re by yourself to helping you develop new friendships. If you can join a group related to your interests, it can be a great way to meet new people – for example, you can find your local Men’s Shed, which is a group where older men can work on hands-on projects together.
2: Reach Out to People
This is simple advice that’s admittedly easier said than done when you’re feeling lonely. Remember that loneliness isn’t something to be ashamed of and it isn’t your fault. Your loved ones or friends will be happy to talk to you or come to visit you; all you have to do is reach out and let them know you could do with some company. Choose somebody you trust and open up about how you’re feeling: you’ll be surprised at how positive the response will be. If there’s nobody around who can keep you company, consider seeing a counsellor, phoning a support line or even going to see your GP to get further help.
If you can, finding a way to volunteer to help others gives you something to occupy your time, plenty of opportunities for meeting people and allows you to do something positive with your spare time. Even if you can’t travel anywhere, there are opportunities for home-based volunteering, such as hosting a telephone-based book club or helping lonely elderly people by hosting a meeting for groups like Contact the Elderly.
4: Accept How You Feel
One of the best ways to cope with loneliness is to simply admit to yourself that it’s a normal response to what you’ve been through and give yourself permission to feel this way. The key to accepting how you feel is to look at your emotions as a neutral observer: take a step back and consciously acknowledge when you’re feeling lonely. Rather than being absorbed in the feelings of loneliness, look at your emotions objectively, accept how you’re feeling (and understand why) and then aim to watch as the wave of emotion approaches and fades away instead of being swept up in it.
5: Look After Yourself
A common consequence of loneliness is that you forget about taking care of yourself. Whether you allow your eating habits to become less healthy, don’t get enough sleep, neglect your health needs or let your personal hygiene fall by the wayside, these things only serve to make you feel worse. Ensure you look after yourself and find time to do things you enjoy, structuring your days to make time for everything if it helps.
Conclusion – Help and Support is Available
Loneliness can be difficult to overcome, though, so always remember that further support is available. Whether through a support group or a counsellor, be willing to ask for more structured support if you need it. Simply having somebody to talk to about your feelings can be a huge help, but counsellors can also give you useful practical tips for combating feelings of loneliness and learning to enjoy life again.