Column: "Speaking out is the best way to overcome loneliness"
Have you ever been stood in a room surrounded by your closest family and friends and yet still felt a loneliness like nothing before?
For a long time I felt terrible loneliness, despite having the best family and friends around me, each one of them checking up on me, inviting me over, taking me out, cooking for me, I could go on.
It’s difficult to explain and everyone’s experience will be different, however, it is packed with emotions and feelings that can consume you with many different causing factors.
Many people have spoken about loneliness during the pandemic, but did you know the pandemic didn’t create loneliness, it has in fact always been there, just now intensified and arguably affecting many more people than before.
Long term loneliness is believed to affect almost a fifth of the UK’s population with research suggesting that it can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, with many other associated health risks.
While we may assume it’s the older generation that are impacted the most, young adults too are at high risk of experiencing loneliness.
There are lots of ways that we can tackle loneliness and although not considered a diagnosed mental health condition, it is closely linked to those experiencing mental health concerns.
For this reason, it too carries its own stigma with people thinking that they should keep their feelings to themselves.
I remember being too embarrassed to tell others, worried that it would offend them when they were trying their best to support me. How can I be lonely when I have all these wonderful people around me?
If only I had felt the courage to be able to speak out sooner, I may have been able to overcome those emotions much earlier.
Speaking out is one of the best ways to overcome it.
Speaking to someone who you feel comfortable with can aid to release a huge weight that you may have been carrying around with you. They may after all be able to support you with a plan on how to tackle those feelings.
How can we overcome loneliness?
Talk about it first and foremost. Let those close to you know how you are feeling.
If you are the one listening you may not understand but listen, don’t judge, don’t be offended when they refuse your invite, take all day to answer that message, but keep connected.
For me I found technology was a much easier option than always meeting people face-to-face. It kept me connected whilst I worked my way through the causing factor of my loneliness. Let it be your friend.
Think about a new hobby or interest, what have you always wanted to do but never done before? Find out what’s happening in your local community. Contacting a support line.
If you are struggling with your mental wellbeing or know someone who is then these charities can help. Samaritans: 116 123, MIND 0300 1233393, Anxiety UK 03444775774, CALM 0800 585858, Rethink Mental Illness 0300 5000927 and YoungMinds 0800 802 5544