By Sarah Bolton, Head of Engagement and Programmes
It may sound strange, but loneliness isn’t always the same as being alone. A person can be surrounded by friends, family and colleagues and still feel lonely. Loneliness can be described as the feeling of not having anyone with whom you can connect socially or emotionally.
If you haven’t had the chance to meet new people for a while or you’re feeling unconfident, it may be easier to reach out to someone more familiar. Think of three or four people you’ve been close to in the past and get in touch with them and try to arrange a catch up.
Then try to reach out to people you already know, but would like to get to know better. Maybe invite a colleague you get on with out for a drink or you could see if your neighbour fancies a catch up over a cup of tea.
Try to accept as many invitations to go out and socialise as you can. This can be tough when you’re feeling low, but showing people you’re keen to make an effort makes a huge difference.
You may also find it helpful to open up to someone about your loneliness, for example a partner, a family member or you can also speak to Ben. You can find out more about how Ben can help you on our website or you can ring our free and confidential helpline on 08081 311 333 or use our webchat.
Look after yourself
Taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing can fall by the wayside when you feel down and isolated, but it’s important to try and stay healthy.
Similarly, if there’s a cause that’s close to your heart, why not see if you could spend some time volunteering? You can contact a local charity or search for vacancies on do-it.org. If you enjoy running you might be able to combine it with volunteer work through Good Gyms.
If you’re a bloke, then Men’s Sheds offer the chance to meet new people whilst taking part in practical activities such as bike repair and carpentry.
It sounds cliché, but our four-legged friends can also provide companionship, as well as help you to meet other people. If you aren’t able to own a dog yourself, then you can volunteer as a dog walker for the Cinnamon Trust, Guide Dogs or a local animal sanctuary.
Get to know people
The golden rule for making friends is to take the initiative. When you go to a new setting try to set yourself a goal, such as talking to two different people. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone!
Friendships do take time to blossom, and you might not find someone you click with straight away, but be patient and don’t put yourself down. Simply inviting someone to do something sends out the message that you want to get to know them.
However, sometimes people feel they have an established friendship group or don’t think they have enough in common with you. Don’t be disheartened – chalk it off to experience and carry on meeting as many people as possible!