Tips on how to combat loneliness
Feeling isolated can be soul destroying, for some it can seem like being stuck in a vicious circle with no way out, but there are a number of ways to find new buddies and maybe a lifelong partner.
So what can you do to connect with others?
We have scoured the web to find a few solutions to help you build a network of friends, just call us your BFF!
Learn a new skill
Take the bull by the horns and make it your mission to learn a new skill. It could be anything you fancy being a pro at - gardening, swimming, being fluent in a foreign language etc.
To be honest the actual skill itself doesn’t really matter, the fact is if you can find a course to enrol on - either in person or virtually - regular meetings will see you connecting with others.
Once you have an idea what you want to learn, search online to see if there is a training course and sign up for it.
Sign up to a club
Experts say we humans connect if we share the same interests, which if you think about it makes complete sense.
Have a look online to see if your local community provides clubs where members meet face-to-face or, if you have limited mobility, virtual get togethers.
To find the right community for you search your favourite pastime on Facebook or online forums to see what’s available in your area.
For older people take a look at Age UK’s website which lists coffee mornings, pub lunches, quizzes and photography classes across the country.
Start using small talk
It can be a challenge starting conversations, there’s a knack to it, but once conquered you will be amazed how beneficial the skill can be.
Small talk builds confidence, can help with anxiety and develop social skills.
But we understand it can be daunting, so let’s start by making small steps shall we?
Next time you go into a shop, start chatting to one of the assistants, speak to one of your neighbours - ask how their day is, have they any plans for the weekend…, or give an old friend a buzz/ text for a catch up.
Say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’
It’s so easy to turn opportunities down, but every time you do you will never know what it could lead to.
Here’s a scenario, let’s say someone who you wouldn’t go out of your way to connect with invites you out for a coffee or a party. In that coffee shop or social gathering could be a person you do connect with, you may become friends, be introduced to their network of mates - who knows, one may be a perfect match.
So try saying ‘yes’ more, in fact make a habit of it, you can always backtrack closer to the time, but you could be turning down the key of changing your life for the better.
It may be a challenge finding work, but there are numerous charities out there looking for volunteers.
Volunteering can also improve your own mental health, giving you a sense of purpose, building self-esteem and the opportunity to meet others.
Another plus side is you are in control, if you are giving up your time organisations should fit around your schedule.
Check out your local charities online, or if that isn’t your thing why not volunteer at a library or the council?
Become a pet owner
Studies show pets can reduce anxiety, overcome loneliness and be a gateway to meeting new people.
In fact, according to HelpGuide, having a pet can “fulfil the basic human need for touch,” while “the companionship of a pet can also ease loneliness.”
We appreciate some furry friends require more attention than others, dogs need walking but if you are able to take a four legged friend for a walk not only will you have exercise on a daily basis, chances are you will strike up conversation with fellow dog walkers.
If you are looking for a pet with lower maintenance one of the best alternatives is having a cat in your life.
However, being a pet owner is quite a commitment, but there are solutions, one being the Borrow My Doggy initiative where you can take other people’s dogs for a walk or look after their furry companions when they go on holiday.
[ You can support ABLE2UK’s loneliness campaign by using the #StopTheShadows hashtag on social media. ]