How to Manage Loneliness -14 Ways
A survey in 2019 by the Consumers Health Forum of Australia reported that at least 15% of Australians were experiencing high levels of loneliness. This indicates that loneliness was already present prior to the pandemic from COVID-19. COVID-19 restrictions forced people to stay at home and therefore reduced social contact and accessibility to loved ones and friends and has caused a dramatic increase in loneliness.
For some people lifting these restrictions has not alleviated their feelings of loneliness. They continue to feel isolated, disconnected from friends and family and have lost contact with work colleagues. This could be because they are working from home and missing the daily interactions and meetings at coffee shops.
Loneliness can affect anyone, at any age. We can also experience loneliness at different times of our lives.
Feelings of loneliness are manageable, connect with your family, friends and work colleagues or practice self care increase your feelings of self worth and self esteem.
Try these 14 simple things that will help you to feel more content and connected.
Connecting with Others
The quality of your relationships matters more than the quantity. Build a network of support where you can feel loved and cared for.
Try these techniques:
- Stay in touch. Make your family and friends a top priority. Block out time to spend together on a regular basis. Take the initiative to plan outings and parties. Set up weekly coffee dates and phone calls.
- Open up. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Express your thoughts and feelings. Talk about sensitive subjects. Pick a quiet time and place. Slow down and listen to each other.
- Maintain boundaries. Healthy relationships are based on respect and trust. Understand your limits when it comes to personal space and making commitments. Let others know how you expect to be treated.
- Express appreciation. Strengthen your relationships by showing gratitude and affection. Thank others for their kindness. Recognize their talents and accomplishments.
- Volunteer your services. Helping others puts your own troubles into perspective and makes you feel more connected. Sort cans at a local food bank or go grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor.
- Join a club. Find others who share your interests. Start a running group or browse through Meetup for events that interest you.
- Prepare for transitions. There are times in life when you’re more likely to feel lonely. If you’re moving to a new city or getting divorced, be proactive about staying engaged.
Appreciating Your Own Company
Do you enjoy spending time alone? Practicing self care will help you to realise that being by yourself can be a positive experience and will help you relate more successfully to others.
Keep these ideas in mind:
- Accept yourself. There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. Value yourself for who you are. Let go of judgements and embrace your feelings.
- Build your confidence. Think about the purpose of your life. Clarify your values and use them to set meaningful goals. Give yourself credit for making an effort.
- Limit screen time. Do you use your devices to distract you from your thoughts? Put your phone away for a few hours a day. Turn your TV off unless you want to watch something specific.
- Continue learning. Devote your extra free time to acquiring new knowledge and skills. Take courses online or attend classes at a local university. Read books and listen to podcasts.
- Find a hobby. Fill your leisure time with challenging and enriching activities. There are hobbies to match any kind of interests or budget. Browse through magazines or ask your loved ones what they enjoy doing.
- Seek balance. Most adults need some time to socialize and some quiet time for themselves. Find the schedule that works for you.
- Consider counseling. If you have these feelings much of the time, it could be a sign of more serious issues such as depression, and professional help may greatly benefit you.
Loneliness can have serious consequences for your physical and mental health. If you feel empty and isolated, reach out to friends and family or talk with a therapist. You deserve to have positive relationships with yourself and others.
The numbers below are from the https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mental-health-helplines
FriendLine supports anyone who’s feeling lonely, needs to reconnect or just wants a chat. You can call them 7 days a week on 1800 424 287, or chat online with one of their trained volunteers. All conversations with FriendLine are anonymous.
Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free 24/7 confidential and private counseling service specifically for children and young people aged 5 to 25. Call 1800 55 1800.
Lifeline provides 24-hour crisis counselling, support groups and suicide prevention services. Call 13 11 14.
MensLine Australia is a professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men. Call 1300 78 99 78, 24 hours / 7 days a week.
MindSpot is a free telephone and online service for people with stress, worry, anxiety, low mood or depression. It provides online assessment and treatment for anxiety and depression. MindSpot is not an emergency or instant response service. Call 1800 61 44 34 AEST, 8am-8pm (Mon-Fri), 8am-6pm (Sat).
QLife provides nationwide telephone and web-based services to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people of all ages. Call 1800 184 527, 3pm-12am (midnight) AEST / 7 days a week.
PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) provides a national telephone information, counselling and referral service staffed by trained volunteers, professional counsellors and supervising staff. Many helpline counsellors have had their own experience of perinatal depression or anxiety. Call 1300 726 306, 9am-7:30pm AEST (Mon-Fri).
SANE Australia provides support, training and education enabling those with a mental illness to lead a better life. Call 1800 18 7263, 10am-10pm AEST (Mon-Fri).
Suicide Call Back Service provides 24/7 support if you or someone you know is feeling suicidal. Call 1300 659 467.