Sadly loneliness and isolation are often commonplace when you’re managing a condition or illness. It can similarly be a very lonely time for those caring for a loved one. In honour of the National Mental Health Awareness week that’s underway we thought we’d provide you some help on this. Loneliness is not something that necessarily you feel while alone, it may be you feel at your most lonesome surrounded by other people. Common signs to be aware of that may indicate you’re feeling lonely include:
- Experiencing the feeling of hopelessness
- An extreme lack of energy
- Feelings of guilt when you spend time or money on yourself
- Low in terms of confidence
- Feeling as though no one likes you
- Not being able to recognise your own strengths
- Feeling you’re undeserving of happiness
- Unable to assert yourself
- Difficulty concentrating
None of these feelings belong in your life and if you currently relate to any of these it’s time to prioritise and care for yourself a little more. So, what are the ways to tackle this? There are a variety of ways to change how you feel for the better which are detailed for you here. The important thing is to focus on the elements you personally feel apply to you and your needs, in order to improve your current situation.
Slowing things down a notch
You don’t have to rush, take your time while re-engaging with others and new experiences. As a starting point perhaps go to environments you enjoy be it a coffee shop, cinema, gallery or simply a walk. Anywhere that you can be around others without having to chat to anyone (if you don’t wish). Any change of surroundings will help you start to feel reconnected.
Once you feel ready you could join a class (or activity of some kind) that has the same people attending each time, while again having a joint focus that’s not too demanding on conversations. It’s a light way to energise yourself while learning a new interest or re-focusing your attentions on an established one.
Become aware of how you really feel
It may be time to become extremely honest and conscious of how you truly feel on a daily basis. Feeling lonely can have such a negative impact on your wellbeing it might make it feel harder still to tackle. With this in mind, two key areas to address as a starting point:
- What you are eating and drinking? Being well hydrated, eating your 5 a day of recommended fruit and vegetables as well as not over doing your consumption of coffee are all important. Obviously drinking too much alcohol and/or smoking will also have a negative effect on your overall health. What you consume (or not) can also have a direct impact on your mood. You need to work with yourself and care for your own body how you would encourage a loved one to care for theirs.
- Not getting enough sleep (or too much sometimes) can affect both your mind and body enormously. Ensuring your body gets enough rest is vital to your mental health. If you don’t prioritise this you will find life’s daily tasks and challenges far more difficult. Your immune system will also become less resilient with not enough sleep over time. It’s truly a key issue to address, if you know you should be allowing yourself more rest don’t put this change off.
Reboot and strengthen your self-esteem
If you feel too overwhelmed to address the aspect/s in your life causing the stress and strain, it may be important to speak to a professional for help. Seek out a trained professional who can support you in dealing with the issue/s in a safe space. If you don’t have a personal recommendation, then your GP will have a list of local professionals. If you feel you cannot fund this yourself, go to your GP and request this help via your local authority. Pinpointing the problem is the first big step to change.
If you have a trusted friend you can speak to, make sure you reach out to them. Share with them you need some support and would appreciate talking about it. If you don’t feel able to do this, there are alternatively many online community groups and helplines available. For example, Samaritans have a free helpline open 365 days of the year, 24hrs a day, their national free number is 116 123.
You’ll feel bad about yourself if you continue to spend time with people that make you feel unsupported and stressed, be very careful who you choose to be around. Being around those who love you and sharing your challenges with them can help you reevaluate things positively, leaving you feeling more confident. Be it family, or a close friend they will remind you of all the things you do and have done right.
Become aware of critical self talk. It’s likely your inner voice is speak to you in a way you would never dream of speaking to anyone you care for. If this is the case, you also have to care for yourself, so it’s time to replace criticism with self praise, for the positive changes you’re implementing. While maintaining an acute awareness not to compare yourself to anyone as it’s energy wasting and focus sapping.
Build new connections, in fresh surroundings
When you feel more confident, building upon the positive connections in your life will help substantially. There are countless ways to go about this but a great example is volunteering. The act itself will make you feel good, coupled with the fact you’ll be automatically around or come across people with whom you already share a commonality. Alternatively an exercise class, preferably the same one each week to increase the likelihood of connection building with any regular attendees, while helping your body feel better.
Regular and varied physical activity
One of the most important aspects that can lessen or stop completely when one feels lonely is physical activity. That doesn’t have to mean intense sport, it can be a walk. Your body needs to move around each day to energise your mind and move fresh blood around your body in order to work at it’s full capacity. Ideally, any kind of exercise for (at least) 20 minutes will have a positive impact if you can do it with regularity. If you don’t feel able to join a class or a team, try a small jog or even exercise within your home if that’s more comfortable for you. There are countless free exercise routines online as well as yoga videos to follow if you feel you need something slower paced and private.
Managing and gradually eliminate stresses
Stress arises for many reasons, when we feel under too much pressure, are in a negative environment or being around people we dislike to name a few. Whatever the reason, the body is likely to feel tired, stomach pains are common as are regular headaches. If you often feel stressed, your body is likely to be releasing cortisol and adrenaline to cope. High levels of these two in your body can make you feel unwell and damage your immune system in the longer term. In short, you need to eliminate or at the very least minimise these stresses wherever possible. Life quality is not a small thing and needs to be protected.
If you are looking for care, Care Sourcer offers a free searchable directory of local care agencies. If you need care urgently, we also have a team of care experts who are available by telephone to help guide you through the process.