Loneliness

Loneliness

We can all feel lonely from time to time, and these feelings are personal so everyone can feel them in different ways.

One common description of loneliness is when you need social interaction to feel some kind of reward.  This doesn’t always mean you are alone. You can feel lonely in a room filled with people if the people you want to see are not there. Some people find not having as much interaction is great but others may find this hard and feel lonely.

A women walking in the rain with an umbrella
Illustration of a man walking along a road with the sun behind him.

Causes of Loneliness

Loneliness has many different causes and they can differ from person to person. Sometimes we don’t recognise what it is that is making us feel lonely.

Some are life events such as –

  • Experiencing bereavement
  • Going through a relationship break–up
  • Retiring or losing the social contact at work
  • Changing jobs – meaning you feel isolated from your new and old co-workers
  • Starting university
  • Moving away.
  • Sometimes it can be the time of the year.
    For example, Christmas can be a lonely time if some people can’t see their family.

Some research suggests that people who live in certain circumstances, or belong to particular groups, are more vulnerable to loneliness. For example, if you:

  • have no friends or family
  • are estranged from your family
  • are a single parent or care for someone else – you may find it hard to maintain a social life
  • belong to minority groups and live in an area without others from a similar background
  • are excluded from social activities due to mobility problems or a shortage of money
  • experience discrimination and stigma because of a disability or long-term health problem, including mental health problems
  • experience discrimination and stigma because of your gender, race or sexual orientation 
  • have experienced sexual or physical abuse – you may find it harder to form close relationships with other people.
Illustration of a man alone on a sofa making a phonecall.
Illustration of a woman walking alone under trees

Is feeling lonely a mental health problem?   

Feeling lonely itself isn’t a mental health problem, but the two are connected. Having a mental health problem can increase your chance of feeling lonely.

Tips for Managing Loneliness

Take things slowly – If you have been feeling isolated and lonely for a while, then make sure not to rush back into being with lots of people. This can be scary as you have not had much human connection lately. Start by going to public places to make yourself feel more comfortable around people again.

Make new connections – sometimes loneliness can come from not having enough social interaction with others. Why not try and join a new group or a class?  You could use one of your hobbies to go out and make new friends.

Try and open up – you may know lots of people but think “ I’m not that close to them to call” .  Opening up is a good way to help make new connections and build on bonds that have already been established.

Be careful when comparing yourself to others – you are you and you are enough!  When we compare ourselves to others, we can get carried away in what we “think we should” be. This can make you isolate yourself if you do not feel that you “fit “in with the crowd.

Look after yourself – take some time back for you. Make sure that you are taking that extra time back to do the things you love and you will make new connections with things and people you love.

More tips…

You can find more tips on managing loneliness on Mind (the mental health charity)

Accessing Support at College…

We all struggle with mental health at times – it is just like when we get sick. Trust your instincts – if you feel that you need help, then seek help. You know you best!

At the college you can access Together All. Together All is a safe online community that can help support your mental health, 24/7 through online resources, other members and trained professionals.

Illustration of a woman in a wheelchair sharing a coffee with another person