Forterra News

Mental Health Awareness Week, 9th-15th May 2022 – Loneliness

We all suffer from loneliness at some point in our lives, however, over the last couple of years, when most of us have experienced isolation and distance from loved ones, loneliness and its impact has come under the spotlight.

That’s why this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) (9th – 15th May, 2022), with its focus on loneliness, is so important. Through it, the organisers of MHAW, the Mental Health Foundation, hope not only to raise awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental health, but also the practical steps we can take to address it.

With one in four adults feeling lonely some or all of the time, chances are we will know someone close to us who may be experiencing feelings of loneliness. Forterra’s charity partner, Mind, explains that loneliness is not always the same as being alone: “You may choose to be alone and live happily without much contact with other people, while others may find this a lonely experience.

“Or you may have lots of social contact, or be in a relationship or part of a family, and still feel lonely – especially if you don’t feel understood or cared for by the people around you”.

So, what can we do to manage loneliness? Mind offers the following tips:

  1. Take it slow

If you have been feeling lonely for some time, the idea of interacting with people might feel daunting or uncomfortable. Mind recommends beginning with an online activity, such as a drawing lesson, which other people will attend but you won’t be expected to interact.

  1. Make new connections

Consider joining a class or group based on your hobbies or interests. Volunteering is also a good way of meeting people. According to the Royal Voluntary Service, volunteering can provide the following benefits, “Better physical and mental health and wellbeing. More confidence. New skills and valuable work experience. A sense of connection to others in the community.”

  1. Try peer support

Befriender services, offered by various charities, put volunteer befrienders in touch with people who are feeling lonely. There are also online communities, such as Mind’s Side by Side, which is a supportive online community that provides “a place to listen and share with others who have similar experiences.”

  1. Try to open up

While it might feel difficult, speaking to friends and family about your feelings of loneliness can help. Alternatively, try speaking with a therapist or using a peer support service.

  1. Talking therapies

Talking therapies can be useful in allowing you to explore and understand your feelings of loneliness and how to develop positive ways of dealing with them. For anxiety arising from being in social situations, consider speaking to a cognitive behavioural therapist (CBT).

  1. Be careful when comparing yourself to others

While we can all do this from time to time, it has become more prevalent with the rise of social media. It’s important to remember that on social media, people sometimes share a version of themselves that they want others to see; if we compare our own lives to what is being presented, it might make us feel like we are alone in feeling lonely.

  1. Look after yourself
  • Try to get enough sleep
  • Think about your diet
  • Try to do some physical activity
  • Spend time outside
  • Spend time with animals
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol

Even if you aren’t currently feeling lonely, remember the one in four statistic, mentioned above, and look out for those close to you.

You can read these tips in full on Mind’s web page.

Find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week.