Let's talk about loneliness: part two
Loren, our young volunteer, answers other young people's questions about how to help with loneliness.
In part two of my blog, I hope to provide some suggestions of how to help yourself or others with loneliness. If you haven't already, read part one of this blog now.
All answers, reflections and suggestions are written by young people based on lived experience, with help from the psychosocial team at the British Red Cross.
If you are feeling lonely and want to speak to someone, you can call the British Red Cross support line on 0808 196 3651, open between 10am and 6pm every day.
You can also access free information and activities developed by the British Red Cross to help reduce loneliness.
I hope this helps you too.
What can I do to reduce my loneliness?
Being proactive and asking for help is the best thing you can do when you start to feel lonely. The first step to decreasing any negative feeling is to take a step back, reflect and recognise (without judgments) what you are thinking and feeling, and try to work out what is behind this.
Everyone has primary and secondary emotions. For example, someone might get angry and shout at people around them, but really, they are feeling anxious and the anger is a secondary emotion to this. Try to work out what your feeling of loneliness is. It might take a few goes and it can help to use emotion charts and a bit of creativity.
The most important thing to remember is to not blame yourself for feeling lonely. Talk compassionately and kindly to yourself. Remember you are doing a good job, despite things not being easy (and that’s without a pandemic). Avoid comparing yourself to other people. After all, they might be feeling just as lonely.
If people don’t have any money to do things, or they have a disability that means they can’t get out, how can they make new friends?
Connecting with others is not always so straight forward. Maybe you live in a really isolated place, maybe you have a reason that going outside is more difficult, maybe you are just under a local lockdown and can’t interact outside your household. Now more than ever, we can relate to how difficult it can be for some people to socialise.
Here are my top tips:
- Be creative, find something you enjoy; drawing illustrations, reading or writing poetry, mindfulness colouring, singing are all good.
- Help other people, volunteer with an organisation you are passionate about, or volunteer online, maybe writing articles or helping with telephone support.
- Connect with an old friend, give them a message saying how much you value their friendship and ask them what they’re up to. Watch this video here of people talking about how their connections help them to tackle loneliness.
- Join an online community with the same passions as you (e.g. board games, religious spaces, LGBTQ+ groups) - very COVID friendly. Remember to look after yourself and others online, if others say something that makes you feel uncomfortable, report it and leave the group.
How can you help someone who is feeling lonely?
To support other people, the first thing is to be there for them, whether this is online, in person or through letters. It’s best not to be too full on or to try to solve all their worries in one afternoon. Instead, take it at their pace. Chat about what you have in common and about any fun memories you have together. Sometimes it’s useful to show them resources, like this, but often just showing kindness and caring is enough.
Remember too that you cannot ‘fix’ anyone’s loneliness all on your own. You can only support them, show some kindness, listen, and point them to further support It is important you look after your own mental health and if you are concerned about a friend or yourself contact a trusted adult, helpline or a healthcare professional as soon as possible. You can call our coronavirus support line to talk to someone about loneliness.
When writing this article I’ve stumbled upon a few good resources, my favourites are:
- The British Red Cross - we have been creating a selection of resources to help young people cope with and understand loneliness.
- Mind’s PDF on loneliness with good practical ideas and advice.
- AgeUK, aimed at older people but it is actually super-relevant to everyone.
- Campaign to End Loneliness, again aimed at older people but has brilliant resources including a PDF on the psychology of loneliness and loneliness tool kit.
Support for young people feeling lonely
Free mental health and wellbeing tools for young people to help reduce lonelinessFind out more