It’s no secret that loneliness is on the rise. But it’s not just a worry for elderly people, as statistics show that 40% of 16 to 24-year-old’s regularly feel isolated and lonely.
Loneliness Awareness Week, which runs from June 14-18, aims to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of loneliness – especially as its been found to have a significant impact on our physical health.
Whether you live by yourself or simply feel disconnected from your loved ones, there are things you can do to feel better.
Here are some tips and ideas to help you feel connected.
1. Acknowledge your feelings
It’s normal to feel lonely sometimes, but there’s a major stigma around admitting it.
Talking about your feelings can feel shameful and daunting at first, but it can often be a big relief to have friends and family understand that you need some extra support.
Remember: it doesn’t help to suppress your feelings or isolate yourself further by hiding the fact you’re struggling.
2. Plan some activities in your diary
One of the most effective ways to kill loneliness is to develop a plan of action. If you usually rely on other people to suggest meeting up, be the person in your friendship group that takes the initiative to look around for local events and exhibitions that you can all enjoy together.
Just knowing that you have the power to change things in the future can help to ease the feelings of helplessness that often comes with loneliness.
3. Join a local group
If your friends and family aren’t living close by, there’s no reason why you can’t find a new support network.
It’s easy to connect with people when you have a shared hobby or interest, so find community activities that you’ll enjoy attending. It could be anything, from a gardening club to a local fitness studio.
4. Connect with people from your past
That said, it can be easier to reconnect with old friends, rather than finding new ones.
Whether it’s your long-lost school pal or a colleague from an old job, chances are, there’ll be someone you can get in touch with to suggest meeting for a coffee and reminiscing about old times.
5. Take care of someone else
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and feel like part of a team. Whatever your skills and abilities, or however much time you can spare, you’ll usually be able to find something locally that can fill your downtime.
If you don’t fancy making a regular commitment to volunteer with a charity or community group though, there are lots of easy ways to give your time to help others – from having a cup of tea with an elderly neighbour, to holding a charity sale.
Not only will you feel that you’re doing good for others and the community, but you’ll also have the satisfaction of keeping your loneliness at bay.