Mental Health

6 practical tips to feel less lonely

We’re all feeling more isolated at the moment and, if you live alone, the feeling of being lonely can be especially amplified.

Loneliness doesn’t just leave us feeling down in the dumps. It can have a serious impact on our wellbeing too. Research suggests that feeling lonely can increase our risk to conditions such as anxiety, cognitive decline and even heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

The good news is that there are plenty of things we can do to feel more connected with the people and the world around us.

How to feel less lonely

Get outside

Government regulations permit us to go outside for exercise, and doing so can help to reduce feelings of loneliness. Physical activity and being in the fresh air will naturally elevate your mood. What’s more, being outside gives you the opportunity to connect with others.

Whether it be chatting to a neighbour at a safe distance over the garden fence, or five minute phone call to a friend while you’re away from your desk, these connections – no matter how small – will have a profound effect on how you’re feeling.

The chances are those you speak to are feeling a similar way. You won’t only be helping yourself, but others too.

Maintain a routine

The days can feel very long at the moment – this may feel especially true over the weekends or if you’re not working.

Keeping a routine and making a schedule for your day can make everything seem a little more manageable. It’ll also break the day up and help to keep your mind occupied.

If you can, be sure to schedule in regular calls – either over the phone or video – with friends and family throughout the week to ensure you make time for each other.

Have a drink with friends

While bars and cafes may have temporarily closed their doors, there’s no reason why you and your girlfriends can’t still meet up for a good natter and a drink.

Spending an evening making cocktails or mocktails over Zoom can be a fun way to reconnect and still feel like you’re doing a shared activity. Alternatively, joining an online wine tasting can be a fun way to get together and try something new.

For an alcohol-free get together, afternoon tea can be a wonderful thing to share over Zoom. Make some scones and a pot of tea or decide on a cake recipe that you can both bake beforehand and then enjoy a slice together virtually.

Join a reading group

At the moment it can feel like the days stretch into one long blur. With so little going on, it can often be difficult to know what to chat to loved ones about.

Setting up a reading club with a friend or a group can be a great way to connect. It also provides some much needed time away from screens.

Simply choose a book to both read and decide how many chapters you’ll cover in a given timeframe. Each week, set up calls where you can spend an hour or so discussing the allocated chapters. It’ll give you plenty to discuss and will give your book a new perspective too.

Many books have ‘Reading Club’ questions included at the back, which can act as great prompts for your discussions.

Volunteer from home

Volunteering in the traditional sense is a great way to spend your time giving to a cause that you hold dear, while meeting new friends.

While lockdown has put many volunteering opportunities on hold at the moment, there are still a number of projects that you can get involved with online. It’s a fab way to find a sense of community and help you feel less lonely.

For instance, the onHand app pairs you with people who may need help shopping or picking up a prescription. Alongside practical help that you can provide, it allows you to chat and make a new friendship.

Be My Eyes is another way to share your skills. This app pairs you with a blind or low-vision person and, through a live video call, you can assist and communicate together to solve problems. This might be anything from checking expiry dates to navigating new surroundings.

Seek help

If it’s all getting too much and you don’t feel you can speak to anyone you know, there are a number of charities out there that can support you.

These charities have people on-hand that you can speak to if you’re feeling anxious or low and they can offer support and guidance to help.
Mind, Samaritans and Every Mind Matters have excellent resources if you’re in need of someone to speak to.

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