Loneliness is a normal human emotion that anyone can experience, regardless of age or background. Loneliness is not a personal failing. Everyone will have a different experience of loneliness and different reasons for why they are feeling this way. There is no one way to effectively deal with loneliness but there are lots of different things that can and do help.
Connect with others
Catch up with old friends
We all need to invest time in maintaining friendships. Reach out to your friends by picking up the phone or sending them a message through social media. You may feel that your friends are busy and will not have time for you, but you may be surprised when you take the first step to connect
Invest time in new connections
Joining local groups or classes based on your interests is one of the best ways of making new connections[i][ii]. Volunteering is another excellent way to get involved in your local community[iii]. Not only is it a great way to meet new people, but you can also develop your own skills and interests. Volunteering Matters provides lots of information about where you can volunteer.
Little things can make a difference
Say ‘hello’ to a neighbour, your local shop keeper or a person at the bus stop. Brief exchanges with others can positively impact how you feel about yourself and can make you feel more receptive to other, possibly more meaningful, relationships. Be More Us provides some tips on how you can strike up a conversation.
Technology is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, and make new friends. There are often free courses offered in libraries and in community centres to help improve your digital skills. For instance, many local Age UK branches offer silver surfer classes.
Consider support and services
Don’t keep it to yourself
Talking to someone about how you feel and learning positive coping techniques can be a helpful way to cope with the negative emotions associated with loneliness. You can access talking therapies through your GP, community support organisations, or privately.
Find out what support is available in your neighbourhood
Your local council may have a Community Hub to connect you with a range of services, groups and activities to meet your needs. Community Connectors and Social Prescribers can also help to connect you with opportunities to improve your health and wellbeing more broadly. Talk to your GP about how to access these services in your local area. Lots of helpful information and support is available from charities such as Age UK, Independent Age, Sense, Young Minds and Samaritans. For more information on support services, visit our Helpful Links page.
Things you can do if you prefer to manage alone
Plan your week to do something you enjoy
Plan your week to include a hobby or activity that makes you feel good, such as doing something creative, reading, gardening, or listening to music.
Spend time outdoors
Going outside regularly, be it in your garden or a walk to the park, is a great way to boost your mood. It can help you to feel more connected to your neighbourhood and the natural world.
Focus on the good things in life
When you are feeling lonely, you can sometimes get yourself into a negative frame of mind. Thinking about the good things in your life, or remembering happy times such as a holiday, can help you to think more positively.
Look after yourself
Prioritise looking after yourself. Make sure you are eating healthily, being as active as you can be, and sleeping well.
If you or someone you know is feeling lonely, the following organisations can help.
Campaign Against Living Miserably: support on a range of issues for anyone who needs it.
T: 0800 58 58 58 (5pm – midnight, daily)
Cruse Bereavement Support: resources and one to one support if you are grieving.
T: 0808 808 1677 (various hours, daily)
Family Lives: family support services offered through a helpline, live chat and email support.
T: 0808 800 2222 (various hours, daily)
Mind: a range of information on loneliness and an infoline signposting service.
T: 0300 123 3393 (9am – 6pm, Monday to Friday)
Samaritans: a free listening service for whatever you are going through.
T: 116 123 (24 hours, daily)
Sense: a range of advice, support and services on disability and loneliness.
T: 0300 330 9256 (9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday)
SupportLine: confidential and emotional support for people who are isolated or at risk.
T: 01708 765 200
Royal Voluntary Service: one-to-one, group and online services to improve health, wellbeing, confidence and connections.
The British Red Cross: a range of resources and a dedicated helpline if you feel lonely or worried.
T: 0808 196 3651 (10am – 6pm, daily)
Age UK: information and advice services for older people.
T: 0800 678 1602 (8am – 7pm, daily)
Friends of the Elderly: range of specialist care services that help support older people.
Independent Age: advice, information and support for older people.
T: 0800 319 6789 (8:30am – 6:30pm, daily)
Opening Doors London: connecting LGBTQ+ people over 50 with activities, support and information.
Re-engage: provide social connections for older people.
The Silver Line: provide information, friendship and support to older people
T: 0800 4 70 80 90 (24 hours, daily)
Childline: chat with a counsellor in a safe space, or get support from other young people.
T: 0800 1111
Young Minds: practical advice and support for young people, as well as parents of young people.
Text YM to 85258 (24 hours, daily)
Parents Helpline: 0808 802 5544 (9:30am – 4pm, Monday to Friday)
[i] 2019. Mansfield et al. A Conceptual Review of Loneliness Across the Adult Life course (16+ years). What Works Wellbeing.
[ii] 2019. Wills et al . Addressing older men’s experiences of loneliness and social isolation in later life. Bristol University Policy Report 51: April 2019.
[iii] 2018. Brown and Jopling. Age-friendly and inclusive volunteering: Review of community contributions in later life. Centre for Ageing Better.
[iv] 2017. Polley, M. et al. Making sense of social prescribing. University of Westminster.