Social isolation and loneliness
Loneliness is an issue that can affect us all, young or old, at any point in our lives. We might live in a busy city or a rural location, on our own or with others and still feel isolated.
You should not blame yourself for feeling like you are struggling, now or at any other time.
Loneliness can have a huge impact on our wellbeing, but there are lots of simple actions you can take to help lift yourself or others out of loneliness.
Loneliness has no common cause. Sometimes it can be triggered by a life event or change in situation, or it may not be triggered by anything at all.
We all experience feeling lonely in different ways. This means there are a range of ways we can try to overcome loneliness, and we need to identify the help and support that works for us. It's really important to remember that loneliness and difficult feelings can pass.
While loneliness is a feeling we can all relate to, sometimes admitting we feel lonely is much harder. We want people to talk more openly about feeling lonely and the impact that loneliness can have.
Sometimes it can feel easier to reach out to someone else who may be feeling lonely. There are plenty of simple actions you can take to help lift someone out of loneliness and in doing so, it might help you to feel less lonely too.
Advice for loneliness
Keep in touch with those around you
Talk to friends and family. Sometimes a friendly chat can make a big difference, whether someone is around the corner or further away.
Whether you choose to meet up in person, or chat on the phone, via video calls or on social media, all contact can help remind you that you are not alone.
Make sure to check in regularly - most of us love hearing from people we have lost contact with. Creating a routine of checking in with others and being more sociable can be good, as it can make it easier to reach out at the time you feel lonely.
Messaging old friends or colleagues, or setting up a group chat on a messaging app like WhatsApp or Messenger may help them and you feel more connected.
Join a group
Find a group with a shared interest. Being part of an offline or online group or club is a great way to make connections and meet people. Think about activities that you would like to try out and look for groups centred around these.
The people around you may also be able to introduce you to a group they belong to. This could be anything, from gaming and singing to cooking or sport.
Also remember to be welcoming to newcomers and seek to involve others in the conversation, especially those who may be lacking confidence.
Do things you enjoy
Filling your time doing more things you like can stop you from focusing on feelings of loneliness and is good for your wellbeing.
Spending time outdoors in green space, doing exercise and listening to podcasts and radio shows are just some of the ways to boost your mood and occupy your mind.
Share your feelings - but do not compare
Being able to talk about how you feel with others can help with loneliness, and hearing a familiar voice or seeing a friendly face makes us feel less isolated.
However, try not to compare yourself with others. Remember that many people may only share the good things happening to them on social media, so comparing can make you feel lonelier.
Plus, we can never be sure of what someone else is going through.
Help someone else feel connected
Reach out to others - think about people you know who might be feeling lonely and make an effort to connect with them.
Remember that feeling lonely for a long time can make it harder for people to make new connections. It may be difficult for people experiencing loneliness to respond to your friendly contact at first, so be patient and kind.
Try to keep in touch with those around you too. If you pass neighbours or acquaintances on the street, take the time to smile, wave and chat. You could offer to swap phone numbers or create a local group chat to stay connected.
Think about making time to volunteer - it's a great way to meet people and connect, and seeing the benefits of your actions can really help to boost your mental wellbeing.
NHS Responders and Age UK Telephone Befrienders are a great place to start.
Support for loneliness
If you cannot reach out to friends or family, if you want to talk to someone in confidence, or if you know someone who may need some support, these organisations are here to help.
View the social isolation and loneliness directory of local services and organisations
If you're experiencing stress, feelings of anxiety or low mood, the NHS mental health hub has advice, a self-assessment quiz, audio guides and practical tools to help.
There is also a list of national support services on the NHS website.
This page is based on content that originated from GOV.UK (adapted)
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This page was last updated on 19 January 2023