Written by Lauren Geall
As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.
To mark mental health awareness week 2022, Stylist asked seven women to share the best pieces of advice about loneliness they’ve ever received. From taking a social media break to looking inside yourself, here’s what they had to say.
Despite being one of the most universal emotions, many people still struggle to admit when they’re feeling lonely.
It’s a topic that remains largely under-discussed, too – while conversations about mental wellbeing have come a long way over the last couple of years, many of us are a lot less comfortable talking about feeling isolated than we would be about discussing feeling anxious or low.
However, things are changing. This week, the Mental Health Foundation has dedicated its annual mental health awareness week campaign to raising awareness of loneliness and the potential mental health risks associated with it – and with one in four adults feeling lonely some or all of the time, it’s safe to say this kind of conversation is long overdue.
Of course, simply talking about loneliness will only go some way towards addressing the wider issue – but hearing about how others have dealt with loneliness in the past can be really helpful if you’re feeling lonely, too.
Indeed, while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to feeling lonely, it can be reassuring to know others have struggled with a similar issue and found an approach that worked for them.
So, to mark mental health awareness week 2022, Stylist asked seven women to share the best piece of advice they’ve ever received about loneliness. Keep reading to check out what they had to say.
Get a good night’s sleep
“Getting a good night’s sleep can really help with loneliness. Poor sleep lowers your overall resilience, can cause negative thoughts to become overwhelming and make it harder for you to appreciate the social contacts you have.”
Find your people
“The best thing I ever did was find my people. I’ve found a community group for all the struggles I’ve been through in life, from fertility issues to anxiety and depression. These are the kind of people you can learn so much from, as they’ve been through similar struggles to you.
“I’ve found that growing and learning together has such a huge impact on our wellbeing, as it builds a connection unlike any other. There’s a common misconception we have to do everything on our own – but actually, the most resilient people have found their communities and their people.”
Finding someone isn’t always better than being alone
“Many years ago, when I was a single mum working as a nurse in A&E, I was chatting to a very lovely and incredibly spritely 91-year-old lady about life and love and she gave me the best piece of advice of my ‘lonely’ single years: it’s better to live alone than in bad company. It was the truest thing I ever heard and a lesson not to settle for less than good enough.”
“Take a social media break – watching everyone’s highlight reel can make you feel lonely.”
Work on accepting yourself
“There have been times in my life when I have felt really lonely, even though on the outside I was busy and had a full life. I think many people believe loneliness to be a place where you are always by yourself, but sometimes it’s far lonelier to be surrounded by people who aren’t on the same page as you.
“Everything changed for me when I came to fully love myself – when I accepted all that I am and all that I am becoming. That feeling of ‘different’ can be so lonely but it doesn’t have to be when you see the ‘different’ as your superpower.”
Challenge your thoughts
“I felt lonely while suffering from postnatal depression and the best advice I got was to look at it from an objective standpoint to see whether I really was lonely. When I gave it a good think, I realised I had more people ready to help and support me than I could count.
“The loneliness was just an internal feeling, but sitting down and writing down a list of all the people I knew loved me and were there for me made a massive difference to the way I felt. In fact, I was more supported than ever – I just didn’t want to see it at the time.”
“I’m not sure where I got this advice from, but it’s an approach I’ve carried with me throughout my adult life. Whenever I’m feeling lonely or that I don’t have enough friends, I try to be really proactive about making plans with the people I love.
“I often realise that the isolation I’d been feeling was the result of some pretty dramatic overthinking rather than a reflection of reality – and seeing people I love spending time with helps to boost my spirits, too.”
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