This year, World Mental Health Awareness Week has a focus on loneliness. It’s a feeling that we have all had at times yet there is such a stigma around it.
There are two types of loneliness and everyone has experienced short term loneliness at some stage. Short term loneliness might creep up on you if you haven’t spent time with loved ones in a while, if you’ve been working from home or even if you’re hanging out with people that you just don’t feel a connection with.
The other type is chronic loneliness, a long term feeling that’s really difficult to shake off without taking necessary yet simple steps to tackle it. Naturally, humans are social creatures and we thrive building communities and having meaningful connections with others. Loneliness can affect our mental health in the worst way but the good news is that we can all play a part in tackling loneliness, whether it’s our own or others. Here are some tips on reducing your own loneliness and helping others out too.
Connect with others.
Reach out to your friends, elderly family members and colleagues, because you never know who’s day you’re going to make better and it will be mutually beneficial for both of you. Forget the small talk and have meaningful conversations about the things you’re both interested in, revisit old memories both happy and sad, make future plans, cook together, go for a walk or bike ride to somewhere you’ve been meaning to visit.
Show yourself some love.
If you feel lonely when you’re in your own company, there are many ways to change this. Taking up meditation will help you feel more grounded within yourself, if this is new to you, try a 10 minute guided meditation so you can see if this works for you. Treat yourself in the comfort of your own home. Take the time to make your living space tidy and comfortable, put a facemask on, brush your hair, light a candle and listen to an album of your favorite artist in full or just stick on the radio. Think of ways you can enjoy the time you have by yourself. Whether you love to draw, learn a language, play an instrument or simply do your nails, it will always be time well spent.
Build a routine and stick to it.
Our bodies love routine. Getting up and going to bed at the same time each day, having a morning and evening skincare regime and sticking to a workout that you enjoy are all things that will make you feel good about yourself. Regularly clean, change your bedding, cook, meditate and treat yourself with kindness.
Keep your loved ones in sight.
Have photos and items that remind you of your favourite people close by, as a little reminder of the happy experiences you’ve had. This will give you motivation to plan exciting things in the future. We know from working from home that being in the same place day and night and only connecting with people in a professional manner through Zoom can feel lonely. Surrounding yourself with reminders of your loved ones is a great way to feel more connected.
Join Goodgym and help your community.
Goodgym is an amazing project where you can join local people to go for a run, cycle or walk with the aim to arrive at a place where you can help an isolated elderly person, plant trees or sort food at a foodbank. Goodgym will give you the chance to connect with your community and focus your energy on something positive.
Change up your social media.
Unfollow or mute the accounts that don’t make you feel good and follow the accounts that will inspire you. Whether it’s art, architecture, interior design or food, there’s so much content out there that’s ready to spark joy in your life.
Set achievable goals for your month or year, and plan holidays and days out. Invite people over for a home cooked meal or a takeaway and always give yourself something to look forward to, whether it’s by yourself or with others. It’s always a good feeling when you have upcoming plans to be excited about.
You are not alone.
It could help to remind yourself that there are so many people going through the same feelings. It could be someone you’re close to, someone you’ve seen on social media that’s seemingly living the dream life or your favourite celebrity. It’s not anything to be ashamed of and it’s a mindset you can change.
If you’ve been feeling lonely for a long time, talk to a professional about it. You can freely talk things through together with no judgment and they can help you find the root of the problem while giving you advice on how to manage it. There is never any need to go through these feelings alone and if you’re comfortable talking to a friend about it, that’s a great way to build on your relationship. Feeling lonely is nothing to be ashamed of as there are plenty of people feeling exactly the same way. Why not try a few of the suggestions above and if you can think of a person who would appreciate a call from you, why not make that call right now!