In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that loneliness is now an epidemic, affecting people from all walks of life regardless of their living circumstances or relationship status. The Campaign to End Loneliness report that to be lonely is as bad for your health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, and worse for you than obesity.
Consequently, there is more work being done to combat loneliness than ever before. Governments have been driven to introduce initiatives such as intergenerational living schemes and GPs making ‘social prescriptions’ referring lonely people to get involved in community activities. Indeed, the UK became the first country to appoint a Minister of Loneliness in 2018 following campaigning from the Jo Cox Foundation.
However, despite this, there remain a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be lonely. If you live alone, it does not follow that you will naturally be lonely as was written in our recent article on this topic. Kira Asatryan, the author of Stop Being Lonely, defines loneliness as a ‘sadness caused by a lack of closeness’. It doesn’t matter whether you live alone or with others – loneliness often comes from within.
That being said, we can all feel lonely and just like anyone else it is still probable that many of our solo living readers may feel lonely at times – it’s human nature. So we have put together a list of what we at Solo Living consider to be some of the best online resources for taking small steps and tackling feelings and a sense of loneliness.
1 Reader’s Digest: How Not to Feel Lonely
This article lists fifty useful tips for tackling loneliness, all of which are rooted in scientific research. The article offers a wide variety of methods to combat feeling lonely: organising social activities like joining a book club or community garden, tackling the root of your loneliness by considering your childhood and learning to emotionally respond to yourself, getting comfortable in your own company by finding a hobby or a creative pastime, and putting it in perspective by learning to appreciate that everyone feels lonely sometimes. With plenty of expert tips to equip you to manage those feelings of loneliness, this article from Gina Ryder is a comprehensive guide on how to not feel lonely.
2 Mind: How to Cope with Loneliness
Mind is a mental health charity focusing on making sure that ‘everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect’. They are an authority on loneliness and its cause and effect relationship with our mental health. This article offers in-depth knowledge of how to prevent feelings of loneliness. Rather than a great number of tips on specific, short-term steps you can take to prevent feeling lonely, this article offers seven pieces of profound guidance that will help you get to the root of your loneliness and help you cope with it in a more lasting manner.
3 Psychology Today: Living with Loneliness
A leading publication in the field, Psychology Today offers information and advice on a number of topics related to our minds and behaviour. The author of this article, Dr Robert L. Leahy, is a psychiatrist who studied under the direction of the founder of cognitive therapy. He offers seven steps to tackle loneliness, many of which focus on approaching it from within, rather than distracting yourself from it with increased social activities, for example. He emphasises self-reflection, self-love and self-care in the path to overcoming loneliness.
4 The Cut: 7 Therapists on What to Do When You Feel Lonely
This article by Cari Romm offers the perspectives of seven professionals in the field, including clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, counsellors and marriage and family therapists. The advice here is helpful as it is so varied. You may not resonate with what one therapist is saying, or feel like their suggestions are within your capabilities. However as this article presents so many different takes on the issue of loneliness, it gives you plenty of different professional recommendations to try in order to decrease loneliness.
5 Tedx Talks: The Simple Cure for Loneliness with Baya Voce
In contrast with the other resources we have listed, in her Tedx Talk, Baya Voce offers but one solution to feeling lonely. She asserts that the key to reducing loneliness lies in real and meaningful connections with others. Although this seems obvious, Voce outlines how to do this in a really helpful way. First, she says to prioritise relationships with those who hear, see and value you. She then advises that we create ‘Anchors of Connection’ with these people by ritualising your connection with them. For example, Voce and her friends meet every Monday night, and having this ritual in place helps her to avoid feeling lonely when life gets hard. This video is very helpful as it is just one, simple method that can really prevent you from feeling lonely.
What these resources all share is the assurance that although loneliness is a natural feeling it need not be a fixed and permanent state of being. Whether through increased social interactions, introspection or just a bit of self-care, we can all take steps to overcome feeling lonely.