What is loneliness?
We can all feel lonely sometimes for many different reasons, including at times of difficult change in our lives, such as moving to a new city, because of relationships or friendships ending, or because of a bereavement. Sometimes, we can feel lonely even if we are around lots of people or have lots of friends.
It can be hard to find friends who get us or can relate to our experiences. Social media can make us feel extremely isolated, especially if we are being bullied or feel disconnected from the ‘perfect lives’ we see. Even if we have loads of followers, it can feel like everyone else is surrounded by friends and loved ones and having a good time; this can make things feel much harder when we are feeling alone and not sure who to turn to for support.
When you might feel lonely
Loneliness can be difficult to cope with and can start to affect our mental health, making us feel sad, depressed, or giving us feelings of low self-esteem. Sometimes, if we are already struggling with our mental health it can feel difficult for us to interact with our loved ones in the way we usually do. This can then make us feel isolated and lonely when we didn’t feel this way before. But life doesn’t have to be this way; if you’re feeling lonely, there are things you can do to feel better.
You may also find that you feel lonely when:
- you start a new school, university or place of work and are finding it hard to make friends
- you experience a bereavement or loss of someone close to you
a relationship or friendship changes
- you go through something that your peers haven’t or are unable to relate to
- you feel very different from your peers or people around you
- you aren’t able to do the things you see others doing
- you are struggling with your sexuality or gender identity
There have been times at university where I've felt homesick and lonely. In my experience, the reality of being away from your family and friends sinks in when you're alone in your room. I think it's very important to have some strategies in place from the beginning to help manage homesickness and loneliness.
Things you can do to stop feeling lonely
Focus on self-love. Spending time alone might not seem fun, but the more time you spend doing things you enjoy and being kind to yourself the more confident you will feel. It’s ok to have time just for yourself.
Express your feelings. It is important to have ways to express yourself, even if right now you don’t have people close to you who you can talk to. Keeping a journal can help you to track your mood and reading over it might help you to see things that keep happening in your life which you might need some help with. Some people like to express themselves through drawing, painting, music, fashion or sport.
Join a club. You don’t have to be good at something to give it a go and enjoy it. A regular hobby with other people can help you build new friendships and have fun. It can feel really nerve-wracking to turn up to a new place, especially if the people already know each other, but you’re likely to find people who are very happy and willing to help you settle in. If you feel anxious about meeting new people, have a read of our anxiety page.
Try volunteering. This can be a great way to learn a new skill, give back to your community, feel good about yourself and meet people passionate about the same things as you. Vinspired have lots of volunteering opportunities which you can search for according to where you live.
Follow your passions. If there is something you absolutely love there will be other people out there who feel the same. Whether that’s an online fan forum or a local writers’ group, find ways to connect with the things you love and you might be surprised about what opportunities that leads to.
Reach out if you’re struggling. Talk to someone you trust. It could be your parents or wider family members, like older cousins, aunts or uncles. Outside home, it could be a teacher, a neighbour or a close family friend. You can also speak to your GP about how you’re feeling. They can listen, tell you about local services and support groups, or they may suggest specific treatment for the way you’re feeling.
I found that joining the dance society helped me to meet new people with similar interests to me, who are now the people that I go to if I'm feeling particularly homesick or lonely. Laura
The worst thing I did was bottling it up and trying to deal with it myself.
Real stories on experiencing loneliness
Get help now
Even though it might feel like it right now, you are not alone. Here are some organisations who can support you.
Text YM to 85258
Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.
All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.
Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.
- Opening times:
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
- Opening times:
- 9am - midnight, 365 days a year