Loneliness and Young People
Research by the Office for National Statistics shows us that young adults are more likely to feel lonely than any other age group. In fact 10% of people aged between 16 and 24 are ‘always or often’ lonely; that is the highest proportion of any age group.
What is Loneliness?
Loneliness is not just about how many people we have around us, but also the quality of those relationships. We can be happy or content when we are alone, or when we have time to ourselves – we might call this positive kind of isolation ‘solitude’ or ‘privacy’. On the other hand, loneliness occurs when we feel a sense of negative isolation, a disconnection with others. We might feel empty, unwanted or unappreciated. We could feel unable to open up to others.
Impact of Loneliness
Loneliness can impact on our mental health and our physical health. In fact, prolonged loneliness can trigger a stress response in our bodies and minds.
Coping with Loneliness
When we feel lonely it is our body’s way of telling us that we need more physical contact and a feeling of emotional connection with others.
‘What can I do to help myself when I feel lonely?’
Experience New Situations
- You could try something new, like a new hobby or some volunteering. This might feel daunting so take it slowly and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Meet New People
- Perhaps you could join a group to do something you’re interested in with like-minded people. Sometimes focusing on the activity you are doing together can take the pressure off and make it easier to get to know people.
Connect with Those Around You
- If people don’t know that you are struggling with loneliness, it can be hard for them to help you. Sometimes it can feel scary to open up about yourself to others. Take your time and think about who you might feel comfortable doing this with. If someone asks you how you are, try and be honest.
Create Quality Connections
- Remember, tackling loneliness is about the quality of connections rather than the quantity of them. Seek out relationships with those who have similar interests, values and attitudes to you.
- Sometimes social media can lead you to compare yourself with others which can make you feel more alone and disconnected. Social media isn’t always an accurate representation of people’s lives as people often don’t share when they are struggling. Social media can also help you feel connected to others – there are many great accounts out there that help to tackle loneliness, connecting people across the globe. Try to strike a healthy balance and know when social media is helpful for you, and when it might be useful to take a step back from it.
Get a Pet
- Animals can be great companions both physically and emotionally. Many people talk of experiencing a strong sense of connection with pets or other animals. Often people express relief at being able to spend time with their pets without having to talk, or worrying about what they are saying. It’s not possible for everyone to have a pet, so don’t rule out connecting with nature and animals outdoors. You could even volunteer at an animal sanctuary.
Work out How to Enjoy Your Own Company
- Explore things you could do when you have time to yourself. What do you enjoy doing by yourself? What things help you cope or distract you when you are on your own?
Loneliness and Suicide
On HOPELINE247 we hear that loneliness and isolation is often something that those who are experiencing thoughts of suicide can also experience.
We know loneliness is not permanent – just because you feel lonely and disconnected now doesn’t mean you will always feel this way. It is likely that with the right people around you, or a change in the way you are feeling, whatever you are struggling with can feel easier.
Places of Support:
Elefriends– Elefriends is a supportive online community where you can be yourself.
Meet up – Join a local group to meet people, try something new, or do more of what you love.
Samaritans – Whatever you are going through, Samaritans will face it with you.
Jo Cox Foundation – This weekend is the Foundation’s 2019 ‘Great Get Together’, hosting events across the UK. The Foundation believes that there is more that unites us than divides us.