Loneliness can affect anyone, at any age and at any time. It will be particularly hard for you now if you are self-isolating or shielding at this current time and even if you did not feel lonely before lockdown, you may find that you do feel lonely now. There are a number of things that you could try to lessen your loneliness:
Tell people about how you’re feeling. When you connect share what you’re going through and talk about any struggles you’re facing. Opening up will also let your contact know that it’s OK to feel lonely and may encourage them to open up to you if they are feeling the same.
Practice being kind to yourself. Don’t blame yourself if you are lonely. Perhaps a walk in nature may be helpful for getting yourself into a self-kindness mood.
Share when you feel good. When you feel good about something, even if it’s something small, share it with others. You could share by calling or texting a friend. Or share with the people you work with. By sharing good moments, you create small moments of connection with others.
Connect with others in real life. It’s hard to connect in real life because of lockdown. But if you can connect with someone in person, even keeping two metres apart, this will help decrease your loneliness. If you meet with someone, listen and talk, and maybe turn off your phone so that your conversation isn’t interrupted.
Reach out during lockdown. It might sound simple but during lockdown we must remember to keep connecting. Reach out to old friends and maintain consistent contact with the people you saw regularly. Text and email is fine, but try to call family and friends, Zoom, or FaceTime if you can. Seeing and hearing someone can lift our spirits and ease our loneliness.
Think of helping others. Thinking about what you can offers to others who may be lonely or isolated can both help you maintain social connectedness and also provide with a sense of meaning. Take time to check on those people around you. Think about what you could do to support the community efforts around COVID. For example, could you volunteer to be a telephone befriender to someone else who is lonely or isolated?
Rethink how you spend your spare time. When we feel lonely, we sometimes just don’t want to do anything. Opting to stay alone every night with our phones, watching TV, or playing on Facebook can really get us stuck in loneliness. Instead, if we use our loneliness to motivate us to reach out to people, then we can strengthen our relationships. By seeking social connections, we create more social moments with the people in our lives who matter to us, which usually reduces our loneliness.
Do more things with other people. Social distancing means that we can’t see as many people as we would like to. When you are able to, do more things with people. Engaging in face-to-face social interactions improves our mood and can reduce feelings of depression. Activities that involve other people, such as attending religious services or engaging in sports, are also likely to have positive effects on our mental health. So find ways to be around people more.
Talk to strangers. A growing body of research suggests that even seemingly trivial interactions with strangers—like chatting with a supermarket cashier, may help us feel more socially connected. So reach out to other human beings to say hello or ask them how they are. These small acts can make a big difference and help you reduce feelings of loneliness.
Write to someone. Writing letters, postcards or other cards to people who you know are isolated. It may encourage others to write back and start a postal conversation, which gives us something to look forward when the post arrives. It is lovely to send letters and you could include things like photos, pictures and even hand crafted gifts. This means that you are passing real things that are truly personal – a hand written note can be carried in pocket or put on a shelf to see easily which can’t happen so easily with an email or text.
Be active online. Instead of just ‘surfing the net’ or looking at your social media, think about doing something that involves the active participation of other people. For example, you could play games with others, chat about something you care about, give advice on a forum, or have a video call with a friend. The more you interact with others while online, the more connected you are likely to feel.
Stop your negative thought cycles. We might repeatedly think about what we could have done differently to prevent ourselves from feeling so alone. Try and do something different that stops these thoughts for example, arrange a virtual meeting with one of your friends so you have something to look forward to.
Pay attention to the things that matter. It’s hard to improve our loneliness when we don't always know what causes it? So it's helpful to think about:
Identifying these moments can help you reduce loneliness. You can limit activities that make you feel lonely and increase your involvement in activities that make you feel connected.
Plan catch ups. Even if we are connected to a lot of people, we can still feel alone. It can be helpful to plan times to catch up, even if only by phone during lockdown. Aim to schedule at least one social hour per week, a coffee date, lunch, facetime.
Join an online group of like-minded people. There will be many people with similar interests to you, a great deal of online discussion forums will be available. You could try a number of these groups and see which one you like best. Joining one of these groups can be a way to feel more connected to others, even when you can’t have face-to-face interactions. You might get to know some new people or make lifelong friends.
Volunteer. For some of us, it's hard to find people to spend time with, let alone connect with. So we have to find new people. One way to do this is by volunteering, either remotely (like telephone befriending) or in your community. Working on an important problem with others can help increase your connections and decrease loneliness. As well as helping you to meet new people, supporting others through volunteering can improve your confidence and sense of purpose. If you would like to volunteer, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone………
Be nice to yourself. It’s important to be nice to yourself. Try talking to yourself in a way that is supportive, kind, and caring, and you’ll be more likely to acknowledge how things may need to change and what you could do in trying to decrease loneliness.
Keep a ‘thankful’ journal. One feeling many of us are experiencing at this challenging time is that of being thankful. We are now more aware of the value of people, places, and interactions that we recently took for granted. Keeping a daily journal, in which we express what we are thankful for, helps keep us tied to what matters to us and can help us to focus on the positive aspects of each day.