Loneliness and How to Overcome It

Moving to a new place is hard.

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives, finding ourselves in a new place with new people and new cultures to discover and explore. We find ourselves perhaps feeling like an outsider, trying hard to adapt and fit in, trying to find friends or even just acquaintances to speak with, to go out with, and you feel lonely.

Loneliness is one of the biggest social problems of our time. Our lifestyle and social patterns have changed so much that now it’s so normal to move to a new city or a new country to study, to work, to live. We move away from our support circles, our family and friends, to start new adventures and new lives elsewhere and that means when we fall into those hard times, it’s hard to not have those support circles nearby to help and support and advise. It’s even harder to create new ones to replace the old ones. I get it. Moving back to the UK was harder than moving to France, in my opinion. Perhaps it was due to my age; I moved to France once I graduated from university at a time where life was carefree and without a lot of problems whereas now, I’m older and at a time of my life where most people are settled in their lives. Perhaps it’s my mentality; when I was younger I was happy to be friends with anyone and everyone whereas perhaps now I’m more picky about the friends I choose.

It’s even worse now that COVID-19 has swooped in to disrupt peoples’ lives even more, implementing social distancing and self-isolation practices, making it hard for those people who already feel lonely or feel they don’t have people to turn to when things get tough. It’s hard out there at the moment. If you’ve been told to isolate for 12 weeks, but don’t know anyone, who do you turn to? Who do you chat to? The implications for our mental well-being could be disastrous.

I’m on week 9 (?) of lockdown shielding thanks to my long-term, serious health conditions and with the current state of things in the UK, I have no idea when I’ll be given the green light to start going about my “normal” every day life. Let me tell you, mentally, it’s been hard!

Understandably, there are lots of reasons as to why we might be feeling more lonely nowadays, so I thought I’d put together a few suggestions that might help alleviate it (though they might not be easy to do for those of us who are more introverted!).

1. Join a hobbygroup

This one is an obvious suggestion and if you’re at this blog, there’s a good chance you’re a crafty type, so why not take a look in your area for a knitting group? Or for another hobby you might have? Not sure how to find a hobby group? Try the group function on Ravelry to find one in your local area; that’s how I found mine! And since gatherings and use of public spaces are not an option right now, look for craft groups that are offering virtual get-togethers like the Get Up and Craft virtual group (UK group) that meet every morning.

2. Connect with your current support groups

Something important to remember is that even though we are isolating and feeling lonely, that doesn’t mean we are actually alone. Lot of people are in the same boat right now so reach out to your existing support groups i.e, family and friends, and check in with them once a day for a chat. This will alleviate your feelings of loneliness and will help break up your day a little.

It’s not the same as being together in person, but a little chin-wag with your friends or family never hurts!

3. Volunteer

This is something that has definitely help my loneliness! Before COVID-19, I was volunteering for GirlGuiding UK and was helping out with a unit with 25 girls between the ages of 7-10 years old. Now COVID-19 is here, I’ve signed up to volunteer for our NHS as a telephone volunteer where I will phone and check in on other vulnerable people who are also self-isolating. I may not be able to go outside and physically help out due to the guidance I’ve received by the UK Government, but I can still help in my own way. Think about what you could do to potentially help others and try to put it into action; helping others boosts our mental health and happiness levels by reminding us we are useful and we can do amazing things.

4. Look After Yourself

I think this is the most important point especially during this challenging time! Feeling lonely can really impact our well-being and feel quite stressful at times. At the moment, there are a lot of outside forces impacting on us that we can’t control which can have a serious impact on our mental health, which can make us feel worse than we already do, so it’s important to put our basic needs first – Are we sleeping well? Are we eating well? Are we hydrated? Are we being active and getting some fresh air? All of these basic needs are important to satisfy! And they can make us feel a bit better too!

It’s also important to recognise how we are feeling and let us feel that emotion. It’s OK to feel lonely or sad or exasperated. It’s normal!

In the end, I hope this post helps give you ideas of how you can alleviate your feelings of loneliness. I hope you are well wherever you are in the world and I’m sending you some positivity from my little corner of the internet.

For more information and guidance that could help with how you’re feeling please check out the NHS website and Mind, a mental health charity.

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