Our recent blog on loneliness and disability prompted a lot of comments, helpful personal insights, and the sharing of some great advice on finding a way out of loneliness. It’s really pleasing to read your comments and understandably it seems this theme is an emotional one for many of us.
So please keep your comments coming on this or any other related subject. Our mission at Live Well Now is to raise awareness and understanding of the challenges met by those with a disability or mobility issue and to provide practical and affordable solutions wherever possible; your contributions make that a more satisfying and successful undertaking.
Caring for someone who is lonely
In our previous blog we mentioned some straightforward ways we could care for someone who is lonely. These included scheduling regular periods of time to be with them and, crucially, making sure we stick to the arrangement – we should not break a promise! And if we can plan a trip or two that would be even better. Something simple is all that is needed, such as spending a couple of hours visiting somewhere the person hasn’t been for many years, like the town they once lived in or the school they used to attend. Planning ahead means there is an event to look forward to as well as something to talk about for days after.
With this blog we want to suggest a few things someone might try themselves when lonely. Additionally, we have added a list of some useful contacts where further information and direct help can be found. The challenge of loneliness can be enormous, but we don’t have to meet it alone!
How to handle loneliness
The effects of loneliness can be devastating. There are the known physical impacts but also there are the emotional ones, which can be even more damaging. Loneliness can erode our confidence, making it hard to initiate the changes that we know are necessary. We may have felt alone for so long that the prospect of being in the company of new people is daunting. It is one thing realising we should seek out new connections but quite another to have the strength to do it when we are emotionally vulnerable.
So we should not force it. Just take it slowly and start by putting ourselves in the company of others where there is no pressure to talk. Maybe go to a busy cafe and just absorb the atmosphere. A supermarket cafe is an ideal place to sit on your own surrounded by the hustle and bustle of people shopping or waiting for their taxi-ride home with heavy bags.
We could also visit our local library and search out classes, events or talks. Perhaps sign-up for something where we do not have to participate straight away but can just observe; a mindfulness class for instance, or a talk by a local writer or historian. We should talk with the library staff about classes and arrange to have a chat beforehand with the person running the class to let them know how we are feeling. We should make sure they realise that joining the class is a big step. It also means that when we go to the first class there is already a known face in the company.
How to use social media for good
Many of you have commented that using social media is a helpful way to make new connections and to reduce the feelings of isolation we might feel.
While we agree that finding friends, sharing experiences and talking to others on Facebook can be good for us and help us feel connected, we realise that the over use of social media can foster a sense of dependence and even promote feelings of loneliness. We think it best to use all social media in moderation. We need to learn to balance our presence on social media with being present in the moment. Use it, of course, but let us use it to find out what is going on in the real world and how we can become better connected in reality and not just virtually.
We don’t need to be alone, there are lots of organisations that can help us make real connections. We’ve put together this short list. It’s not exhaustive but it is a good start when we are looking for the way back into forming friendships and finding opportunities to make our lives fuller and happier.
We recognise the impact that loneliness can have on our self-esteem and confidence. But let’s remember that we are not alone and that there is a wonderful community of like-minded individuals and organisations that understand and do want to help.
Do more of what matters to you or create your own group and meet people near you who share your interests.
Community Centres UK
A directory of UK community centres where members gather for group activities, social support and public information. Find the ones that are nearest to where you live.
Centre of advice and information an services and support in your area.
Contact the Elderly
Social activities for people over the age of 75 with little or no social support.
Find out the volunteering opportunities that are available locally.
Side by Side
Services to help people with mental health problems to meet others
Web of Loneliness
Providing resources, information, artwork, and support for those who feel lonely. Helping the lonely get connected.