Imagine Health

Coping with loneliness

Many of us will experience loneliness at some point during our lives and for some, it will occur more often than others. It’s important to note that being alone is not the same as being lonely. Everybody has different social needs and if you are comfortable with being alone then there is nothing wrong with a little solitude. The feeling of loneliness is associated more with not feeling understood or cared for and it can have a very damaging effect on a person’s mental health.

Triggers of Loneliness

Just as all of us have different social needs, we all have different experiences of loneliness, which can be triggered by a variety of causes. For many people, the breakdown of a relationship can lead to feelings of loneliness as they adjust to spending more time alone. Other significant life transitions, like moving away from home for the first time or relocating to a different city or country for college or a new job can also be an exciting but isolating time.

Dealing with Loneliness

  • Keep yourself busy. A lot of the time, thinking about feeling lonely can make these feelings even worse. One way of coping with these thoughts is by occupying your mind with other activities that you enjoy doing and that give you a sense of personal satisfaction.
  • Acknowledge and deal with any underlying mental health problems. Loneliness and mental health difficulties are closely linked. Loneliness in itself is not a mental health issue. However, it can lead to the development of such problems if not dealt with. Similarly, many mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, can have a significant negative impact on a person’s ability to meet their social needs, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Know that you are not alone. Loneliness is something that is experienced by more people than you might realise. But it is also something that can be overcome. Reach out to other like-minded people – schedule a catch-up with an old friend, join a hobby group or try volunteering for a cause you believe in.
  • Be kind to yourself. Self-care is always important but particularly if you’re struggling with loneliness. Rumination and self-blaming can also be a common occurrence during times and loneliness. We provide some suggestions on dealing with these negative thoughts here.