Loneliness can strike at any time…
Alone Or Lonely?
Sometimes we’re perfectly happy to be alone. Being alone gives us space to breathe, practise a little mindfulness and a chance to reflect. Feeling lonely is different from being alone. You could be in a room filled with family and friends and still feel desperately lonely. Loneliness can really affect our mental health and leave us feeling misunderstood, rejected, or completely invisible to others.
Why Am I Lonely?
You might be feeling lonely because you don’t feel as if anyone understands you. Bereavements, family separations, moving home, starting a new school or friendship breakdowns are also common triggers. People who are experiencing discrimination because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities or race are also more vulnerable to loneliness.
Loneliness occurs when we feel as if our social and relationship needs are not being met so if you suffer from social anxiety and find it difficult to make friends or conversation, it can be a struggle to make meaningful connections.
How Can I Feel Better?
There are lots of ways to combat loneliness but it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself. You could start your journey by writing down the reasons you feel so lonely. Do a little every day to try and change those reasons. If social interaction gives you the fear, try building it up slowly talking with those you feel most comfortable with. Show interest in them and ask questions. Equally share a little about yourself too.
If you’re struggling to make friends, try some of these:
- Strike up a conversation with someone at school you’ve never spoken to before. How about a smile and a wave for that classmate who looks a bit lost or seems shy? It’s likely that they’re feeling lonely, too.
- Join a club or group. It’s a great way to meet new people who have similar interests to you.
- Memorise a few friendly conversation topics. You can throw in questions like, ‘What do you like to do at the weekend?’ or ‘What have you been watching on Netflix?’ to keep a new conversation flowing.
Social media could be making you feel lonely. Scrolling through post after post of people who look like they’re living their best lives can make us feel sad and isolated. You could be asking yourself ‘Why can’t I have that kind of life?’ or ‘Why don’t I look like that?’.
It’s important not to compare yourself to others and to remember that social media only shows the best bits about a person’s life. That celebrity with the killer outfit or classmate who seems to have an enviable lifestyle could be experiencing loneliness and struggling with their mental health, too. Try to reduce your screen time or completely remove social media apps altogether to give yourself a break.
What If My Loneliness Is Something More Serious?
Some people feel a deep sense of loneliness nearly all the time. A person could have little or no self-confidence and feel as if no-one else in the world could possibly like them. If this sounds like you, reach out and talk to someone about your feelings so they can help you make some changes.
There is help out there – talk to a parent or doctor and be honest about how you’re feeling. It’s the first step to getting the help you need. If you’d rather talk anonymously to a trained professional, call Childline on 0800 1111.