This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this years theme is 'Loneliness'. Loneliness has a profound effect on our Mental Health. This is something that so many of us have experienced during the pandemic. Suddenly we were cut off from friends and family, and isolated at home, alone for many of us.
Loneliness is the negative feeling we have when there is a mismatch between the relationships we want and the ones we have, both in terms of quality and quantity. Loneliness is feeling alone, not necessarily being alone. You can feel lonely in a room full of people. Chronic loneliness can lead to ;
* Low mood
* Low self esteem
* Poor sleep
* Increased anxiety
* Increased stress
Loneliness is a very common human experience and something we will all feel at one time or another. Some people can be alone and not feel lonely and others can be surrounded by people and feel lonely.
If you are struggling with loneliness and it's impact on your mental health, here are some tips to help you cope;
Explore your feelings
Think about how you are feeling and what could be contributing to these feelings. Keeping a journal can be a helpful way to note down your feelings, and see if you can notice any patterns. By understanding what makes us feel the way we feel, we can discover what works for us to protect our mental health.
Spend time with people you trust
Strong, trusting, supportive relationships can be a fantastic source of support when we feel lonely, as well as a preventative. Spending time with people we trust and enjoy spending time with is good for our mental health. Find people who have similar interests to yourself - if you feel like you don't have these, then look at joining clubs or societies that interest you.
Don't isolate yourself
Sometimes, when we are feeling lonely, we find ourselves shutting ourselves away from the world. Instead of reaching out for help, we turn inwards. This creates even more feelings of loneliness which in turn lead to us feeling worse. Spend time with others when you are feeling lonely, visit your Mum, meet a friend for a coffee, go to an exercise class where you're surrounded by people.
Be wary of social media
While it can be a great way to feel more connected, it can also have a negative impact on our mental health and make us feel lonely and isolated. If you feel like Social Media is having a negative effect on you, mute or unfollow accounts that leave you feeling bad and find some empowering accounts to follow instead.
Sometimes we get caught up in work, family life or studies which make us distance ourselves from those we love and neglect ourselves. Being disconnected from the things and people we love can increase our feelings of loneliness. Create time to do the things that you enjoy to create balance in your life. This might be a hobby, a good book, taking a bath or a walk.
Remember that it is OK to feel this way - and that it is OK to reach out for help. Speaking to friends and family can be a great first step. If you still don't feel like things are improving, then perhaps consider talking to a professional about your feelings.