Why does it happen?
There’s not always a clearcut reason for feeling lonely. You might have moved to a new place or perhaps you’ve fallen out or grown apart from old friends, broken up with a partner, or experienced a bereavement. Maybe you just don’t have time in between work and your responsibilities. You might not really know the reason at all.
Social media can also complicate things. While it can be a great way of keeping up with old friends or meeting new, like-minded people, it can feel like a very lonely place. Seeing other people’s curated feeds and highlights reels can make you feel like you’re doing life wrong. It’s easy to forget that social media is just a snapshot - everyone has their low moments, even if you don’t see them.
How to deal with loneliness
While there is no quick fix to feeling lonely, there are things you can do to help you on your way. Wendy says the really hard thing with loneliness is that the very things that will help, can feel the hardest to do - like talking about it, getting out, reconnecting with people and doing things you enjoy.
“These things really do help. It's all about taking it slowly. Even reaching out to one person and opening up to them can make a massive difference to how you feel.
“Each day maybe try doing one thing that puts you in touch with people and stuff that's going on around you. Try not to compare yourself to others, because we can often think everyone else has loads of mates and great things going on, but it's often not true and thinking like this just makes us feel worse.”
Tackling loneliness with tech
We know we said social media can be a tricky one, but it can also be a great place to make new friends. Even better – there are apps designed exactly for people that want to make new mates. And the good news, everyone’s there for the same thing, so that fear of rejection can take a back seat.
You’ve probably heard of Bumble, but did you know about Bumble BFF (Bumble For Friends)? It was created because the team at Bumble found people were actively using the dating app to make friendships. Since then, millions of connections have been made across the world.
In fact, Naomi Walkland, Bumble’s vice president for Europe, told us during the first three months of 2021, the average time spent on Bumble BFF globally grew by 44% for women and 83% for men. And in the UK, there has been a 57% increase of Bumble BFF messages sent by women since mid-March 2020.
She added: ‘Lockdowns and working from home limit social interaction, but we're hearing from our community that using Bumble BFF is one thing that's made it easier for them to make new friends.’
Another app made for making new mates is locals.org, which the guys who founded it say was ‘born on the strong belief that social connections matter directly for our health and happiness’. It encourages people with shared passions or interests to meet in real life which can go on to create great friendships.
Ok, so maybe that was quite a bit of information, which you’re nowhere near ready for. You might be scared to make the first move - whether that’s talking to a loved one or signing up for your local crochet club. It’s fine to be worried about rejection, but studies have shown that people who experience loneliness are more likely to pick up on signs of rejection. That means we often close ourselves off to protect ourselves, which can impact your ability to seek out friends and relationships.
It might be hard, or even embarrassing, at first, but you’ll probably be surprised at how you feel when you get chatting to someone. Our advice here? Feel the fear and do it anyway. And if people don’t respond? It says more about them than it does about you.
Want some more pointers? We’ve got you covered. Read How to: Make mates here.
Want to find out more? Head to our Get Help Guides for more information on all the stuff you’re facing.
And if you’re struggling
Sometimes when we’re in the middle of what seems to be a never-ending shitstorm, we can spiral, but there’s always a way to move forward. If you’re struggling with your mental health or having suicidal thoughts because you feel lonely talk to CALM. Our helpline and webchat are open from 5pm to midnight everyday to chat to you about whatever you’re going through.