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Mental Health Awareness Week – Coping with Loneliness

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (9th to 15th May) and this year the Mental Health Foundation have chosen to focus on the role that loneliness plays in mental health.

Around a quarter of adults feel lonely some or all of the time and research has shown that the longer we feel lonely, the greater the risk of developing mental health issues.

Divorce and separation can exacerbate loneliness. We may lose touch with a group of friends; we may spend weekends alone when our partner is looking after the children, and we may not have the energy or inclination to make arrangements to see people.

 

Coping strategies you may find useful

Try to do something enjoyable that will keep you busy

Try to find small undemanding activities like gardening, clearing out a drawer or cupboard, doing a jigsaw puzzle or doing some stretching, that will give you energy and lift any negative feelings.

Try to engage in activities that stimulate the mind

Listening to a podcast or learning about something you’re interested in can be stimulating. Also listening to a familiar voice reading an audio book can bring a sense of comfort and connection.

Try to do a physical activity

If you feel overwhelmed physical activity can help. Try a short walk in the park, or put on some music and have a dance at home.

Try to engage with people you meet in your daily life

Smile and say hello to all those you encounter throughout your day – the post person and the checkout cashier –sharing a greeting can help to have a positive effect on your feelings.

Spend time with pets

If you have a pet you will benefit from their unconditional love and support, along with the structure they impose on your day. Interestingly, research suggests that interacting with a pet helps to reduce stress.

Find people that ‘get you’

Try to find other people who are going through what you’re facing for mutual support and a sense of belonging that you may be missing. Connect in person through a local group, or online via social media.

Use social media in a positive way

Finding digital communities and those whose interests you share can really help. The trick is to discriminate between social media viewing that makes you feel bad and that which makes you feel good.

Talking therapies can help

Talking through your feelings of loneliness with a counsellor or therapist can help you cope with any feelings of loneliness, by giving you a safe space in which to explore your feelings.

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