Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters: loneliness

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A few words for those feeling just a little bit alone in the world at the moment – and with some ideas as to things that may break the cycle.

Hello, and a warm welcome to the spot on our site where we chat about things that may be affecting you, or people around you. Our rules for these pieces, which instantly makes them sound more formal than they are, is that no miracle cures are offered, but hopefully something over the course of the series of articles will be of use to you.

For our penultimate article of the year in this series, we wanted to chat about loneliness. I think it’s something lots of us have felt in particular over the last year or two, for an abundance of different reasons. But it’s hard to keep going sometimes when you feel you’re having to fight every battle yourself.

It’s a tricky cycle to break too, and by all means fill our comments up with better ideas for doing so than these we’re about to talk about. But just a few things that may be of use if you’re feeling isolated.

Firstly, at some point, it’s worth saying yes to something. Appreciating there may not be lots of offers of things to do, or places to go, one good way to break a cycle is to take a little risk. To try something. To say yes to something you may ordinarily say no to. It may or may not work, but it’s unlikely to be wasted. Keep doing the same things, and little is likely to change. Saying yes and trying something? There’s at least a chance.

Communicating is also important, but it’s often the hardest bit to break. Opening up about loneliness can be really scary, and oftentimes, finding a friend or family member to trust can be tricky. What I’ve learned over time, if it’s any help, is that people tend to want to help with things. They just need to be asked. That in itself can provoke a reaction of ‘if they cared, they’d ask’, but I don’t think life is that simple. We’re all dealing with things that others aren’t aware of, and with all good intentions, people around you may not know how lonely you feel. Do try and share it with them.

A few other small things to try. Admit to yourself that things are tricky, and don’t try and brass it out. Is there a club or organisation you can jump, or a small community of people – like the comments on this site – you can get involved in? Perhaps some volunteering, anything to get a connection.

Also, be kind to yourself. Self-care is critical and at the heart of pretty much every piece in this series. It’s okay to be lonely of course, and for many, it’s a passing thing. But if it’s deeper than that, do look after yourself first and foremost. And then do try and find a way to reach out.

Even more so than usual, there’s no perfect answer here. But you are as entitled to your space on this Earth as I am, and you are as important and as valid. Please don’t lose sight of that, and please just say hello in the comments below.

As always, you all take care of yourselves. This little section will return next Wednesday.

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