Explains loneliness, including the causes of loneliness and how it relates to mental health problems. Gives practical tips to help manage feelings of loneliness, and other places you can go for support.
This page has some tips and suggestions for managing feelings of loneliness:
Some people find these ideas useful, but remember that different things work for different people at different times. Only try what you feel comfortable with, and try not to put too much pressure on yourself. If something isn't working for you (or doesn't feel possible just now), you can try something else, or come back to it another time.
If you've felt lonely for a long time, even if you already know lots of people, it can be terrifying to think about trying to meet new people or opening up to people for the first time. But you don't need to rush into anything.
For example, you could try doing an online activity where other people attend but you're not expected to interact with them, such as a drawing lesson. Or if you're interested in joining a new group or class, you could ask whoever runs the sessions if you can just watch at first, rather than taking part.
Simply knowing that other people are there may be enough to help with some feelings of loneliness.
There are many different types of peer support service, which provide people with a space to use their own experiences to help and support each other, including experiences of loneliness and related mental health problems.
These are some different types of peer support which you may find useful:
Watch Lee's vlog on how overcoming his loneliness started with talking to people online and getting involved a mental health campaign.
If you are feeling lonely because of a lack of satisfying social contact in your life, you could try to meet more, or different people.
"Be brave and reach out to someone. It doesn't have to be face-to-face; you could share a post on social media."
You might feel that you know plenty of people, but what is actually wrong is that you don't feel close to them, or they don't give you the care and attention you need.
In this situation it might help to open up about how you feel to friends and family.
If you don't feel comfortable opening up to the people you know, you could try speaking with a therapist or a using a peer support service.
"I never feel lonely when I'm in nature. I feel more connected than ever when I'm walking alone through a wood or by a river."
Talking therapies allow you to explore and understand your feelings of loneliness and can help you develop positive ways of dealing with them. For example, therapy can provide a space for you to discuss the emotional problems that make it hard for you to form satisfying relationships.
If anxiety about social situations has made you feel isolated, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may help. This focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour, and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.
It is very hard to stop comparing ourselves to others. We all do it, but it can help to just be aware that things are not always what they seem from the outside.
For example on social media, we very often only see what other people want to share about their lives, and this can make us feel like we are the only ones feeling lonely.
It's important to remind yourself that you don't know how other people feel when they are alone, or when their social media feeds are turned off.
If you're worried that social media might be affecting your mental health, see our information on online mental health.
And if you have a lack of confidence in yourself or your life when compared to others, and you think that this might be contributing to your feelings of loneliness, our information on self-esteem may help.
"I sometimes feel lonely when I am overwhelmed by human information – the news, social media, TV, negative gossip etc. – I feel so separate and different to most people."
Feeling lonely can be very stressful and can have a big impact on your general wellbeing, which might make it even harder to make positive steps to feeling better.
Think about how some of the following are affecting how you feel and whether you can do anything to change them:
This information was published in July 2019. We will revise it in 2022.
References and bibliography available on request.
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