Information on overcoming that lonely feeling.
Loneliness is about feeling separate from others. It might include a feeling of being abandoned or ignored, or a sense of being alone in the world. As we grow up, we naturally separate from others; from our parents as we become teenagers, perhaps from school friends when we start work or go to college and from different partners throughout our lives. So it’s natural and normal, and everyone feels lonely at some point in life.
What causes loneliness?
Life is full of stresses and changes that can lead to people feeling isolated and lonely. Work might be fast paced and pressured; leaving home, moving to another city/country and going to college are often huge life changes. Living in remote rural areas or in urban areas without a strong sense of community can lead to isolation and suffering an illness can also all lead to feelings of loneliness.
These are just some examples of times in our lives when we might feel lonely. However, it is also very possible to feel lonely even if you have a great social life and lots of friends. If you feel misunderstood and if you feel you can’t share yourself with others around you, you might feel isolated and lonely.
The experience of loneliness
You can be surrounded by people, but still feel lonely. So it can be a strange thing to explain to someone. Loneliness is something that transcends all boundaries, all classes and all people. Even someone with the perfect life, a loving family and loving friends can feel the pangs of loneliness creeping up at them. Most people are happy to spend time alone as well as with other people. However, sometimes a person might feel alone all the time.
If you are lonely, you might
- Feel sad.
- Feel that you don’t want to try new things or attempt to change things in life.
- Feel that no one understands your situation.
- Feel lonely even when you are surrounded by other people.
How can you overcome loneliness?
- Relaxation techniques such as writing in a journal or diary, listening to music, yoga or meditation can help you learn to relax when alone. Ironically, once you can be alone in comfort with yourself, your relationships with others will probably improve because you will have less of a desperate hunger to be with just ‘anybody’.
- If you find socialising difficult because you are shy, there are ways to improve your confidence. Find out more here.
- Start to overcome lonely feelings by making small talk with the people who you interact with every day. That might be a shop assistant, a work colleague or your flatmate.
- Get started with topics of conversation that most people are comfortable talking about, such as what’s happening in the news: “Have you heard the latest about the rugby team?” The weather: “It’s freezing, isn’t it?!” Your local area: “The new swimming pool is great...” etc,.
- Start small talk with a question about the other person, so that they talk to you: “How are you?”, “I see you here often, do you work nearby?” or “How’s business going for you?” etc.
- Don’t feel you have to suddenly become the life and soul of the party overnight, but do try to talk to people every day.
- Get involved in clubs, societies or volunteering opportunities that interest you. Not only will you meet new people, you will be more likely to meet people with the same interests and passions as you.
- If there is something specific happening in your life, which makes you feel lonely, don’t be afraid to seek out help and support for it. See the help section for details of support organisations.
- Talk to someone you trust about how you feel – sharing your feelings and worries with others can help lessen the loneliness or feeling of isolation you are going through.
- If you find it hard to spend any time alone, think about seeing a counsellor to explore the reasons why you are so uncomfortable spending quality time with yourself.
- It's very important not to isolate yourself, so joining after-school clubs, college societies, evening classes, etc. are all great ways to meet people and to put yourself out there. The more you attend activities like this, the more confidence you will get, which will help you break out of that loneliness circle.
- Don't wait on your friends or people to contact you – if you haven't heard from them for a while it's not because they don't care, it's more likely that they are really busy with other things. So drop them a text asking them how they are, or Facebook them and ask to meet up.
- Stay in touch with family and friends – if you've no credit, send them a sneaky ‘call me’ text – or text them for free online.
- Everyone feels a bit lonely at some stage or other – so don't wallow in self-pity. Simply accept that you can change this by making the first move. The key is to not wait on others to get in touch!