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Connecting back to yourself when feeling lonely

9 May 2022

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is loneliness. Loneliness is a feeling that everyone has sometimes but can be hard to recognise, describe and acknowledge.

In this blog, we will share some useful reminders to consider if you are feeling lonely, relevant for this awareness week and every day of the year.

What is loneliness?

Everyone feels lonely from time to time. Feelings of loneliness are personal, so we will all experience loneliness differently.

Loneliness is commonly described as the feeling we experience when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships is not met. But loneliness is not always the same as being alone.

You may choose to be alone and live happily without much contact with other people, while for others this may be a lonely experience.

You could also be someone who has lots of social contacts, or be in a relationship or part of a family, and still feel lonely – particularly if you don’t feel understood or cared for by the people around you.

Sometimes, we can feel lonely even if we are around lots of people or have lots of friends.

We all can feel lonely at different times for different reasons which include times of difficult changes in our lives, like moving somewhere new, relationships or friendships ending, starting university, changing jobs, or experiencing a bereavement.

Sometimes, social media can make us feel isolated and disconnected from the ‘perfect lives’ we see on-screen on a daily basis. It can feel like everyone else is surrounded by friends and loved ones and having a good time. This can make things feel more challenging when we are feeling alone and not sure who to turn to for support.

Remember that social media is someone’s highlight reel. Although a picture, caption or video may give an impression, it isn’t always the full story and your own feelings and experiences are valid regardless of what you see others doing.

Loneliness and mental health

Feeling lonely isn’t in itself a mental health problem, but the two are strongly linked. Having a mental health problem can increase your chance of feeling lonely. Experiencing poor mental health can have a significant impact on a person’s life and is very likely to lead to reduced social contact.

For example, some people may have misconceptions about what certain mental health problems mean, so you may find it difficult to speak to them about your problems.

Or you may experience social phobia/anxiety and find it difficult to engage in everyday activities involving other people, which could lead to a lack of meaningful social contact and cause feelings of loneliness.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased levels of loneliness amongst the population, particularly for people who faced lockdown living alone and unable to regularly connect face to face with friends, loved ones or colleagues.

1 in 14 people aged 16 or over in the UK say they are lonely (ONS)


Finding our connections to ourselves, others, and the world around us, is fundamental to protecting our mental health and reducing feelings of loneliness.

Loneliness is when we feel we do not have the meaningful relationships we want around us.

It’s particularly important to support young people in recognising when they are feeling lonely, understanding their thoughts and feelings, and identifying the supportive connections they have.

69% of 13-19-year-olds said they felt alone “often” or “sometimes” in the last fortnight and 59% feel like they “often” or “sometimes have no one to talk to”. (YouGov)

Below are some things to do when you’re feeling lonely that will help you connect back to yourself and others and feel less lonely.

Be kind to yourself

Spending time on your own 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 and take things easy. Do not focus on the things you cannot change – focus your time and energy on helping yourself feel better.

Express how you are feeling

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 that you might need some help with.

Some people like to express themselves through drawing, painting, music, fashion or sport. Or, why not try volunteering?

Volunteering 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. Use Vinspired to discover lots of volunteering opportunities near where you live.

Find what sparks joy for you

You don’t have to be good at something to give it a go and enjoy it. Join a hobby club, team, or local group to help you connect with other people, 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 there is something you absolutely love there will be other people out there who feel the same.

Check in with your mental health

If you’re based in Wales, you can access free guided self-help tools through Silvercloud. These easy-to-use and interactive online programmes are designed to support your mental health and wellbeing. Find help for anxiety, depression, stress, sleep, money worries & more.

Don’t struggle alone.

Remember to ask for help if you are feeling lonely. There are people out there to help you and to listen when you are ready. See our list of support organisations below that you can reach out to by phone and some by text.