The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 is loneliness. Many people would describe loneliness as being physically alone or in solitude, whereas loneliness is actually a state of mind. Therefore, loneliness is not about being on your own, it is about feeling all alone. Yet, many people do not now know how to cope with being alone.
Many people who suffer with loneliness are introverts who may also suffer from depression or other mental health conditions. They may feel socially awkward or shy, or feel out of their depth around people or when they are in social circumstances. Coping with loneliness and depression is extremely challenging.
Loneliness doesn’t just affect the elderly, although some people have this view. Loneliness affects people of all ages and backgrounds. There is also a definite stigma surrounding loneliness which is common with most mental health conditions. This stigma is often the reason why those who are lonely suffer in silence and do not attempt to think of ways to deal with loneliness. They may be too embarrassed or too shy to seek help, as if loneliness is something to be ashamed of.
It is important to realise that loneliness is a sign that something is not right and needs to change. It will take time, but once you recognise that a change needs to take place, you can find out how to handle loneliness. If you or someone you know is coping with loneliness, what can you do?
How to Overcome Loneliness
Here are some positive steps outlining how to overcome loneliness:
- Open up and confide in someone you trust. They may be surprised to find out that you are feeling lonely. They may also be able to offer support to help you make changes.
- Volunteering is a good way to manage loneliness. Many organisations rely on volunteers and it also helps people give something back to their community.
- Joining a club or social group can help make one feel valued. For example, there are book clubs, knitting or craft groups or perhaps you could join a gym group or running/walking club.
- Counselling is a good route if you are feeling overwhelmed by loneliness. Your GP can help signpost counselling support.
- Remember that you are not alone. Many people old and young experience loneliness during their lifetime. It is not something to be ashamed of.
Loneliness, while it can be crippling and scary, is something that can be overcome. If you reach out for support, you will find that help is available from a variety of sources.