Feelings of loneliness are normal, particularly if you are single or living alone but there are lots of things you can do to widen your social circle and make new connections.
By embracing your independence and making an effort to become involved in your local community, it is possible to live a single life without feeling lonely.
Living a single life without feeling lonely
Despite being better connected online than ever before, loneliness is becoming an increasing problem among people of all ages in the UK.
Affecting both our mental and physical health, the Huffington Post this week reported that Dr Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, has urged GPs to make time to see more lonely patients.
She warned social isolation and loneliness are “akin to a chronic long-term condition in terms of the impact they have on our patients’ health and wellbeing.”
Adopt a pet
If your circumstances allow then adopting a furry companion, such as a dog or a cat will help stave off loneliness, providing a friendly welcome home at the end of the day and something to snuggle up with when you are feeling low.
Studies have also shown that pet owners are happier and in better health than non-pet owners and that simply stroking a cat or dog has a positive and calming effect on the body.
Embrace living alone
With nobody to tell you what to do, you can turn up your favourite songs, dance around the house, watch what you want on TV and come and go as you please.
Try and remind yourself about the perks of living alone and then embrace them every day by celebrating your independence.
Don’t isolate yourself
When living alone it can be easy to retreat into your own world with your own thoughts, so make a conscious effort to get to know your neighbours and become a part of the local community.
Going out for a walk or run in nature most days is a positive habit that releases endorphins and boosts your health.
It also gets you out into the world, ensuring that you don’t spend too much time indoors by yourself.
Invite friends and family to your home
Opening up your home to friends and family encourages socialising and helps beat any feelings of loneliness from living alone.
Host regular dinner parties, have movie nights or start a book group. Spending more time with other people may also help you appreciate your alone time even more.
Make new connections
If your circle of friends and family feels small then there are lots of ways that you can make new connections.
Developing your interests and going to evening classes or clubs is a great way to get out of the house and meet new people, or you could try volunteering.
Age UK provides a befriender volunteering service for, where you can sign up to befriend an elderly person in your local community who may too be experiencing loneliness.
Learn what triggers your loneliness
Understanding what sets off feelings of loneliness enables you to take steps to try and prevent those situations from occurring.
For example, if coming home to an empty flat makes you feel sad then arrange to call a friend or family when you get in each day. If you spend too much time by yourself at the weekend then book into a yoga class or plan a lunch with friends.
Don’t compare yourself to others
With the popularity of social media, we can’t help but compare our lives to others but doing so often makes us feel inadequate and it can heighten feelings of loneliness.
Try to remember that people typically represent the very best parts of their lives online and that you don’t really know they are feeling when they put their phones down.
Tell people how you are feeling
It’s not always easy to open up about your feelings but explaining to a friend or family member that you are lonely can be very helpful.
You may be surprised about other people who have experienced the same feelings as you and can offer support and advice.
If you are depressed or feeling low then it is also helpful to make an appointment with your GP. The mental health charity Mind also provides free advice online and through a telephone helpline.