9 Strategies for Overcoming Loneliness

17.06.2024

In my previous blog, Identifying loneliness: 7 signs to look out for, I unpacked some of the most common physical and mental symptoms we can experience when feelings of loneliness persist. In this blog I will be suggesting 9 practical strategies to overcome it.

1. Recognise it’s not your fault

Feelings of loneliness are often accompanied by feelings of guilt or shame. “It must be my fault” or “There must be something wrong with me” are common thoughts when we feel lonely. But the chances are, this is not true.

It’s helpful here to name some of the reasons why people experience prolonged loneliness. By doing this we will see that it is usually outside of our control. It’s often due to a change in circumstances that then lead to longer periods of isolation. These changes can include moving home, becoming a carer, being bereaved, having children, family moving away, retirement, lack of money, ill health, loss of mobility, relationship breakdown and deterioration in mental health.

Identifying the changes that have led to us feeling lonely is a key step. When we realise that it’s because of our circumstances, we begin to see that it is not our fault. There is nothing wrong with us, and there’s no reason why we can’t have meaningful connections again. This puts us in a better mindset to think about how to rebuild connections.

2. Reach out to family and friends

Once we reject the lie that loneliness is our fault, we can begin to reach out to people we know and love. It may not always be possible to see people face to face, but writing letters and talking on the phone can be a great substitute. Scheduling in a weekly or fortnightly call with someone we love chatting to, or becoming pen pals with a grandchild is a great place to start.

3. Engage in Hobbies

Re-igniting the love of a hobby, or finding a new one, is a great way to engage our minds (and bodies). Doing things we enjoy can lift our spirits no end. If it’s possible to go an interest group, even better! What local groups are happening nearby? For inspiration on hobby ideas, click here.

4. Exercise

When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, which can improve our mood and reduce feelings of loneliness. We don’t need to run a marathon to do this! Just some simple stretches, a short walk, a run up and down the stairs or something else we can manage can make our bodies and minds feel so much better.

5. Volunteer

Helping others can give us a sense of purpose and connection, and take our minds off of ourselves. There’s usually no shortage of volunteer opportunities either! This is a great website to look for places to volunteer at. If mobility is an issue, consider what could be done from home. There are opportunities to befriend people on the telephone for example, through services like Silverline.

6. Embrace new technology

Laptops, tablets and smart phones are a great way to connect with others from the comfort of our sofa, especially when it’s not easy to get out and about. But getting started, especially if you don’t have any of these devices, can be daunting. Is there are friend or family member or local group who could help you get up and running? This website has lots of helpful information on what you can do online too.

7. Adopt a pet

Adopting a pet can help reduce loneliness as it provides constant companionship, something tangible to receive our affection and attention, and a sense of purpose in that we have someone to look after. Pets are proven to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. They have also been shown to boost moods. If you need some pet ideas, why not take this short quiz to find out which pet might best suit you and your circumstances.

8. Practice Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

Taking time to nurture ourselves is a great thing to do when we’re feeling lonely. Meditation, journalling, taking a long bath and indulging in a treat all help to boost our mood and remind us of our own value and worth. The NHS have a great resource here for ideas on this.

9. Seek professional help if needed

If feelings of loneliness carry on and continue to impact our well-being, it’s worth looking for support from a professional. This could be the local GP as a first port of call. More specialist help, in a variety of forms, might be signposted from there.

Loneliness doesn’t need to be a permanent resident in our lives. Linking Lives UK exists to address loneliness by creating meaningful connections. To find out more, visit here.

By Angela Caley, Operations Manager at Linking Lives UK

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