Most people feel lonely at times, experience loneliness, however, can be to feel overwhelmed by an unbearable feeling of separateness at a profound level. This can manifest in feelings of abandonment, rejection, depression, insecurity and anxiety. If these feelings are prolonged they may become debilitating and serve to prevent us from developing healthy relationships and lifestyles. Loneliness can be:
- Situational – provoked by a change in circumstances, such as moving to a new environment
- Developmental – our need for intimacy balanced with our need for aloneness is a process that develops throughout the life stages
- Internal – unrelated to external situation or age-and-stage, often including feelings of low self-esteem and vulnerability, probably stemming from early years
Experiencing bouts of loneliness is common and may include lots of different feelings and thoughts, such as feeling embarrassed, self-conscious, feeling shy, experiencing low self-esteem and feeling socially inadequate and de-skilled. These feelings are not limited and being lonely can cause many different emotions, but having an awareness of where these feelings are coming from can support in getting help to overcome these feelings.
Moving out of Loneliness
The feelings associated with loneliness feed on themselves – the more lonely you feel, the harder it is to take steps to break out of loneliness. However, feeling lonely is a phase and does not have to be a constant way of being. As with changing any patterns of behaviour, it may take effort and commitment to begin to move out of feeling lonely.
Here are some things to try if you are feeling lonely:
- Try to talk to family, friends, your GP or health professional. You could also contact the also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: email@example.com if you need someone to talk to someone
- Try a sports club, society you have an interest in or volunteering to be around people with similar interests.
- Consider visiting a place where you can just be around people – park, cinema or café
- You can access support from Wellbeing Services to support you through these feelings and give advice to move forward positively.
- You could also consider peer support, Find out more about peer support on the Mind website
- Distinguish times when you feel relaxed in your own company and when you feel unpleasantly lonely – journal and record positives feelings and accomplishments as well.
- Determine whether your preferred style of relating is on a one-to-one basis or in a group
- Take some risks – speak to people, smile a lot, make an effort, get involved, do something new
- Seize opportunities, even if you don’t feel like it! Give your self a small goal, for example stay at the social event for 30 minutes, you may find yourself staying for longer.
- Feeling lonely is a common, human emotion experienced by everyone at times (and therefore is not a defect)
- Intimate friendships take time to develop
Wellbeing and Student Support is available for students at the University of Warwick: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/wss/
The Student Room:http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/Struggling_Students%27_Guide
For people who are estranged from their families: http://standalone.org.uk/students/
Samaritans: tel 116 123 www.samaritans.org
How to cope with loneliness MIND booklet containing tips and avenues for further support
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