Did you know that 45% of adults feel lonely at some point in their lives? That’s 25 million people, according to the campaign to end loneliness.

If half of us feel lonely at some point, it makes sense to know how to help ourselves when we need the company of others and how to support others when we’re capable.

We all have internal chatter in our heads, and when we’re lonely, we often think that people don’t understand us, that it’s safer to be alone, or that people don’t want to spend time with us. 

Sometimes, though, it’s because people don’t know that the other person is feeling lonely, and as peoples’ lives get busier, the weeks go by faster without seeing friends and family.

At the AoC Trust, we meet amazing people every day who go above and beyond to help others, so here’s how to support others and reach out if you feel lonely:

1. Friends and family prevent loneliness

Lonely people are great at saying they’re okay because they often consider others and don’t want to be a burden. 

Life is busy, and, understandably, we struggle to make time for ourselves, let alone a visit to friends and family, but a quick call or text to see how someone is doing could make a world of difference. 

Ask “how are you doing?” and if they say “yeah, okay” without much confidence or add anything else like “you know how it is”, then be clear in saying, “are you sure you’re okay?” and follow it up with a coffee or offer to chat.

We often feel safe around family and friends, and being honest with them about loneliness can give them a clear signal that you’d benefit from their time occasionally.

If you don’t want to pressure someone to spend time with you, try opting for an activity that you both enjoy. It doesn’t matter if that’s coffee, shopping, going to the gym, or offering to help out with some house repairs or a project.

2. Volunteering heals loneliness

Whether you’re looking to help others or meet other people, volunteering can heal and be very rewarding. 

From community groups, churches, and online courses to charities like Age UK, Linking Lives UK, and Men’s Sheds Association, there are many ways to prevent loneliness or want to help others. 

Volunteering is known to help self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction as the boost you get from giving back to others is often strongly aligned with who you are — a calling to help others.

You can also receive help and support from these groups, which can be found online, in your local library, or newspaper.

3. Try something new to beat loneliness

We all get set in our ways and weekly routines, and often guitars, paintbrushes, walking boots, and cameras that used to bring joy get covered with dust. 

But it’s time to dust them off. 

There are so many groups dedicated to rambling, photography, music, art, and more that bring together like-minded people and result in friendships that can last a lifetime.

You could also try something completely new. 

From an online cooking class to exploring the local area with a group of new people, you’ll find that some of the people attending also wanted to meet new people.

As we get older, it’s also important to try new things; you’d be surprised how beneficial gentle exercise and mental stimulation can be — you might be the next chess master.

4. Understand your loneliness voice

There is an internal chatter inside all of us that can be both helpful and very unhelpful at times. 

This chatter can lead us to believe that we are not worthy of friends, feel misunderstood, or are better off on our own. Ultimately, though, if we are on our own and feeling unhappy, it is usually because we seek a social connection of some sort. 

There are ways of quieting this internal chatter or understanding it to move forward: 

  • You are not alone in your loneliness — 45% of people feel lonely.
  • Remind yourself that you can start new hobbies and work towards making connections.
  • Remember that there are charities and people out there who do care about you and can help you.
  • You can understand when something makes you feel lonely. For instance, although social media is good for connecting, it can also be unhelpful with comparing yourself to others.
  • Take a moment to explore what you feel comfortable doing to prevent loneliness, such as sitting in a local coffee shop or visiting your local church.

5. Help to understand how to cope with loneliness

Sometimes, the feeling of loneliness, especially if you feel lonely while surrounded by others, requires a therapist’s help to understand. 

A therapist can help you to explore when you feel lonely and provide a path forward out of loneliness for you, with coping strategies for times when it makes you feel upset.

The AoC Trust has a self-referral system that is completely confidential. For more information, call 01384 211168, email support@theaoc.org.uk or complete the self-referral form here. The referral form will need to be signed by a parent or legal guardian for all under 18s.

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Help us to help others donate to The AoC Trust to provide vital therapy for those who need it the most. Donate here.

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