So with there being another lockdown in England as well as many other places in the UK, we thought a guide to loneliness would be a great sequel to @Liam
and I's guide on positivity
! This time we had some help from the fabulous @Aidan
! We have all been working on this for a few days and we hope you find it useful!
I appreciate it's rather long but feel free to skip to any headings that you think may be helpful!
What is Loneliness?
Loneliness is a subjective, unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of companionship, which happens when there is a mismatch between the quantity and quality of the social relationships that we have, and those that we want (Perlman and Peplau, 1981).
In more simpler terms, loneliness is the feeling of ‘emptiness’ in our social life
. We can experience loneliness even if we do have social relationships! There are different types of loneliness:
Emotional: Absence of a significant other (partner or friend)
Social: Lack of social connections
Existential: The separation of a person from others (aspect of the human condition)
What if you feel lonely, but you're not alone?
Although it is commonly shown in the media that the only lonely people are those who are old or have lost loved ones, anyone can be lonely! There is no ‘qualifying ground’ to be lonely, it is an emotion and everyone has the right to feel it just like you have the right to feel happy or sad.
It is definitely possible to spend all day with a group of people and to still feel lonely, you may feel as though you don’t have an emotional connection with anyone and hence, your social interaction feels like a lonely one. Check out our tips to beat loneliness below!
How to beat loneliness
Practice Self Kindness
In difficult times it’s good to practice self kindness, blaming ourselves when we feel lonely isn’t helpful. Give yourself a break, take a walk. Have a nice bath etc.
Focus on the Present Moment
When you feel good about something share it! Call, text or tell a friend or family member. It doesn’t have to be big to be positive you could simply wake up well, or manage to get out of bed.
Connect in Real Life
In the age of smartphones and technology we can often forget to have physical connections. Go downstairs talk to a family member or flatmate, Go to the park and meet someone at a distance.
Rethink How you Spend your Time
Oftentimes when we feel lonely we wish to retreat and hide in a corner. Instead use that to motivate you to reach out to others. Meet that friend. Call someone.
Do More Things With People
With the current situation you are limited to meeting one person outside, when lockdowns ease that can be higher. Go for a walk with someone, or at least connect through video.
Talk to Others Who May Also Feel Lonely
There are lots of charities that want volunteers to talk to others. You can ring people who may be otherwise be alone, or support others. You can become a volunteer for shout, nightlink, or even nhs responders (who provide phone calls, or do peoples shopping).
Be Active Alone
Instead of simply surfing the social media, do things that involve others like playing games, call a friend, use a forum.
Stop Negative Though Cycles
For instance if feeling lonely then then take action. I will reach out.Be Nice to Yourself!
It's important to practice self compassion, everyone fails sometimes, there's no need to bully yourself. Instead talk to yourself in a kind caring way.
How to feel less lonely when you're alone?
Whilst some people get enjoyment out of being alone, for others the lack of social interaction can be an emotional struggle and have a negative impact on their mental health. It is important to know that it is totally normal to feel lonely if you're alone or even if you are with people but there are ways to make that lonely feeling go away. It is possible to enjoy your own company, just look at Mr Bean! It can be scary to be alone but with the tools and the correct mindset, you'll be just fine.
Adjust your Sails
Being alone doesn't have to be a bad thing. You can embrace the solitude and turn it into a positive experience. By doing this you will be gaining control of the situation. At the moment, we are living in a time of stress and uncertainty but if you can take control of your own lock down it can make you feel more in control of life. Being alone will be a negative experience if that's what you make it to be, If you spend the whole time thinking "this is a waste of time" and being sad it can make you feel more lonely. But if you use this time to strengthen the relationship that you have with yourself, learn new skills and get to know yourself better, It can make that lonely feeling go away. We can't control being in lockdown but we can control how we deal with it. "We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails" - Thomas S Monson It can be difficult to keep this positive mindset so check out our other guide on how to stay positive > Here
Make a Plan
If you're going to be spending time alone, It's good to make plans. It can be easy to slip into a habit of just watching television and feeling sorry for yourself, although this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's not healthy to do this every day. So try to make little lists of things that you can do during the week. It can be anything, i'll list some ideas below.
Redecorate/Rearrange your Room/ Deep Clean
Whilst you can only go shopping for essential items at the moment, you can still buy non essentials online. So if you'd like to try and re decorate your bedroom you could buy everything that you need through the internet. However, you don't necessarily need to spend money to make a room feel fresh. Rearranging your room can make it feel totally different. I get bored of my room quite often and because I was stuck in there for such a long time during lockdown, changing it around really helped me to feel like I was in a different setting. You could also just put up a new picture, fairy lights, display some of your art, create a collage. It passes time and feels totally worth it.
Draw, paint, write an autobiography or a story, Learn how to knit, sew up some holes in your old clothes or complete a jigsaw puzzle. There is nothing more rewarding than creating something that you're proud of. So use this time to get creative. You could write letters to people that you're grateful for, tell them why and then you can decide whether or not to post your letters to them. You never know, they might send one back! So unleash your inner Van Gogh or Roald Dahl (or whoever else is super crafty and awesome) and get creative
Make the Most Out of the Internet
Join an online community or sign up to social media. This is a great way to feel less lonely when you're alone. It helps to keep in touch with friends and family or even make new friends and reconnect with old friends. If you're signing up to social media or if you are already on social media, try to avoid the fake news or the constant negative news stories. So unfollow/unfriend or unlike the people and pages spreading negativity and join the ones which are spreading positivity. If you're wanting to learn new skills, join facebook pages/groups or people who are also interested and learning. There's lots out there!. The internet also enables us to video call with friends and family, make the most of this. Talking face to face can feel a lot more personal than texting/messaging so make plans to video call friends and family - you can even show them your rearranged room or crafts!
Learn New Skills
Whilst you're unleashing your inner Roald Dahl and Van Gogh, you may as well release your inner Mary Berry too. Whilst you're spending time alone it's a great idea to learn new skills. This can be cooking and baking, seriously.. you do all of the hard work and then get to treat yourself to cake. It's a win win situation. You could learn a new language (i've heard the duolingo app is good for this), learn how to play an instrument, learn a new dance... anything. It's a great way to keep yourself busy and it's super rewarding at the same time.
This one is pretty self explanatory, pets are a.m.a.z.i.n.g so if you have a pet, make the most out of this time that you can spend with them. You'll both enjoy it and pets can never say the wrong thing. Pets make the best company (imo
When you're alone, It's important to take care of yourself. So, have a hot bath, go out and get some fresh air, stay hydrated, read a book, listen to your favourite music, Seek support if you need it, Watch a movie, Make sure you're getting enough sleep, Laugh with friends on FaceTime, treat yourself. You deserve it.
Remember it's Okay to Feel Lonely!
It's OK if you feel lonely. We all crave social interaction from time to time. Some days are going to be more difficult than others but we're all in this together and here at The Mix, you're never truly alone because we've always got your back. If your loneliness is feeling too much for you, make sure you reach out for support.
Loneliness and grieving
Grief isn’t half complicated. We all deal with it at some point in our lives, and we all deal with it in our own ways and at our own speeds- and that’s okay. I could talk about ways to try to deal with grief, but what works for me (or for Dr Google) might not work for you, and it’d be a verrrryyyyy long guide.
If you lose someone close to you- family, a mate, a pet, anybody you love really- it’s normal to struggle with feelings of loneliness afterwards. You might have spent a lot of time with them and made a lot of memories-and be left feeling like you’ve got nobody now they’re gone.
A loved one you lose can never be replaced. That doesn’t mean you can’t make connections with new people, or spend more time with people you knew already. It can help not to feel lonely as it can help your grieving process- but don’t forget to make time for yourself if you need it. Only go as fast as you’re comfortable with in overcoming the loneliness that comes in the wake of grief.
Some quick tips:
Don’t dwell on ‘what ifs’- what's done is done, and there’s nothing your or anybody can do to change it. Think about the times you had, not the time you didn’t.
Don’t try to replace who you lost- nobody will be the same as them, but that’s okay.
Reach out- we all go through loss, so talk to somebody you trust about it and they’ll understand. It might help you feel less alone.
Think about when you feel most lonely- this might be a certain time of day, or day of the week, that you spent a lot of time together. Try to do something different during these times.
Try something new- nothing works better at helping rid the feeling that you’re ‘stuck’. You might find a new hobby or make new friends or overcome a fear, and that’s never a bad thing.
Talk to your GP- if your low mood is persisting for a long time and preventing you living life as normal, it might be worth talking to your doctor and seeing how they can help.
I know this isn’t exactly comprehensive, but I hope if you are feeling lonely after grief that it might help steer you in the right direction. Support is always available.
You’re not alone in feeling lonely.
Further reading on grief:
NHS page for grief (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/coping-with-bereavement/
Mind page for bereavement (https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/bereavement/about-bereavement/
Here we have included some organisations that address loneliness in young people, these are definitely worth taking a look at!
Hope you find this helpful and remember you're not alone
(For making it to the end, have some of our doggo pics)