This week I wanted to talk to you all about something that’s not exactly tech-related, but I think is really important. Loneliness.
Loneliness can be a difficult emotion to cope with – and while we’re all locked away, it’s one that more of us are having to deal with. And it’s important to get help if you need it so that it doesn’t become a more serious problem. Living alone or being unable to visit family can be very difficult – but not everyone who lives on their own feels lonely all the time, so it’s clear that there’s more to the feeling than simply “being alone”.
It’s worth spending some time thinking about when you feel lonely – is it something that comes and goes, and is there something that triggers it? Or is it something you struggle with constantly? Is it overwhelming or can you carry on your normal daily life?
Things you can do to help you cope:
1. Remember that loneliness is normal – it’s a common feeling. However hard it might be, it can help to know that you’re not the only one in the world who’s feeling that way.
2. Think about why you’re feeling lonely. Loneliness can often feel quite hopeless – but it can help to switch it round and remember that you feel lonely because you value the company of other people. That puts a positive spin on the situation – if you focus on wanting company rather than hating loneliness, it can make it easier to go online and spend some time on your favourite forum, or pick up the phone and speak to someone.
3. Identify when you most often feel lonely and plan for those times. For some people, loneliness tends to strike at particular times – maybe evenings or weekends, say. If you can spot when those times are, make some plans for those times. For example, you could plan to have a phone, Skype or online chat with a friend a couple of evenings a week, or you can make that your time for doing the supermarket shopping, or record a favourite TV programme and save it to watch at that time.
4. Remember you don’t need someone to do new things with. It’s easy to think that you can’t start a new activity without someone to do it with – but for almost any activity or class you might want to do, it’s perfectly fine for you to do it on your own. And if you join a class, more likely than not, you’ll meet other people who’ve taken the plunge and done it on their own too.
It’s harder to start new things at the moment, but the internet’s a great tool for finding out what’s going on in your local area – and a lot of people are running classes over Zoom at the moment. You could take up guitar lessons, join an art class, join a local history group… there are lots of possibilities if you take the pressure off yourself of finding someone to do it with.
5. Be kind to yourself. Try to do things that make you happy as much as possible – give yourself the occasional treat, and generally be kind and caring towards yourself. Remembering that you don’t need other people to have nice things and feel good is a big part of pulling yourself out of loneliness.
6. Keep yourself physically well. Although loneliness can make you feel unhappy, there are other things you can do to help balance that out. Eating healthily and getting enough sleep can make you feel much better all round. And getting some exercise and fresh air is one of the best things for lifting the spirits.
7. Make the most of companionship where you can. Remember that you don’t need to be in the same room with someone to have their company. Facebook groups and forums are great places to go for a chat if you’re feeling down. And video calling has made it much easier to keep in touch with your friends and family, even when you can’t see them in person.
8. Get help if you need it. There are people and organisations that can help if you’re really struggling – carry on reading for more information about these.
If you don’t have friends and family who you can speak to on the phone, it might be worth considering using a befriending service. Age UK, The Silver Line and Independent Age all offer services where someone can arrange to speak to you on the phone or set up a video call, to help keep you company.
You can find out what’s available in your area by visiting their websites or calling their helpline numbers:
- Age UK Befriending services or call their Advice Line on 0800 678 1602
- The Silver Line is a charity that was set up to help older people. Their helpline number is open 24-hours a day on 0800 4 70 80 90.
- Independent Age offer similar support to Age UK. You can find out more on their website, or call the helpline on 0800 319 6789.
We really are living in difficult times, but no-one has to cope alone. There are lots of people out there waiting to help – all you need to do is click one of those links or pick up the phone. We’ll get through this together.
Sending virtual hugs from everyone here at Helpful Books.