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lonely man looking out a window

Ways to
manage loneliness

Most people have experienced loneliness at some point in their life. For Victorians, many of us would have felt it even more during the pandemic restrictions. A preliminary study suggests that 1 in 2 Australians felt lonelier since the coronavirus [1]. Many situations can cause loneliness, but the good news is, there are things we can do to manage it.

 

What is loneliness?

Loneliness is a feeling of distress that can occur when the quality and quantity of a person’s social relationships are perceived to be inadequate. Loneliness can also be described as a feeling of sadness that results from feeling disconnected from the world around you.

Loneliness is different from social isolation. A person can feel lonely even if they have contact with other people, just like they can feel contented or satisfied with limited social contact.

 

What can cause loneliness?

The following situations may cause you to experience loneliness:

  • Moving to a new place
  • Starting a new job
  • Working remotely
  • Leaving or losing your job
  • Not able to visit your family or friends
  • Leaving school
  • Ending a relationship
  • Dealing with the loss of someone close to you.

Loneliness is not constant; it may come and go depending on your circumstances.

 

Ways to manage loneliness

There isn’t one solution to manage your loneliness, and what may work for one person won’t work for another. Below are some ideas you may want to try – you can choose or adapt something that feels comfortable for you.

Make time for meaningful connections

When we are really busy or not feeling motivated to socialise, we may not make time to connect with people who are important to us. Reaching out to a friend or family member and scheduling a time to catch up in person, on the phone or online, even if it is once a month, can make a difference. Meaningful connections can reduce loneliness.

If you are catching up virtually, you can try something new like cooking a meal at the same time over a video call. Or make a plan to watch a movie and call up a friend afterwards to chat about it.

You can also take the time to spread some kindness. While scrolling through social media, instead of just liking your friend’s photo, you can send a direct message or write a compliment.

Schedule a check-in with work colleagues

If you worked in an office, you probably had many casual interactions as you walked to a meeting, made a cup of tea, or saw someone in the hallway. Now that some of us are working remotely, many of these opportunities have disappeared.

To recreate some of these experiences, you can:

  • Host a virtual coffee with your colleagues
  • Allocate ten minutes at the start of a meeting to ask how everyone is doing
  • Host a lunchtime quiz
  • Have a walking meeting – for an added incentive, researchers at Stanford University found that a person’s creative output increased by 60% when walking [2].

Find a group with similar interests

There are many online and in-person groups you can join. Find your niche and a group of people who share your passion.

Platforms like Facebook discover has lots of different groups, from gardening to music to history.

Exercise classes are another way to meet people. Check out your local community organisations or the YMCA Victoria for virtual classes. Websites like What’s On Melbourne is an easy way to see a list of things to do in Melbourne.

While volunteering may be limited at the moment, you can still give your time to others. Visit Volunteering Victoria for up to date news and Go Volunteer for on-site and online volunteering opportunities.

Try something that works for you, and remember, the quality of your connections and interactions is more important than the quantity.

 

References

[1] https://www.swinburne.edu.au/content/dam/media/docs/Loneliness-in-COVID-19-15-07-20_final.pdf

[2] https://news.stanford.edu/2014/04/24/walking-vs-sitting-042414/

 

If you’re concerned about your mental health, you can speak to one our professional counsellors. Call CAREinMIND on 1300 096 269.

Or register for online counselling.

If it is an emergency, call 000

It’s free to people in north, western and central Melbourne and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Want to know where else you can get help? Find out how to access additional community support.

 

The CAREinMIND blog is delivered by On the Line. The views in each post do not necessarily reflect those of North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network.