According to a recent study, lonely people who suffer with heart problems are up to three times more likely to die one year after being hospitalised and discharged. However, it’s not just those with heart problems that are affected.
Loneliness is a modern-day epidemic, which affects all ages and can trigger significant issues in our lives such as anxiety, depression and many more mental and physical health issues.
During the winter period, loneliness can really take its toll, especially when we’re bombarded with adverts of families at Christmas and friends gathering for social events.
Being lonely can also mean feeling isolated, so even if you have lots of friends and a big family, you can still experience loneliness from time to time.
As the weather gets colder, we’re also more likely to retreat to the warm comfort of our home, avoiding social gatherings and activities such as going to the gym and staying active.
So how can you avoid loneliness and improve your well-being?
1 Call a friend or loved one
When you’re experiencing loneliness, it can seem really difficult to reach out to people, especially if you’ve lost touch with them previously. However, they’ll most likely be thrilled you’ve reached out to them and will value the chance to catch up.
2 Try to leave the house every day
If you’re working, leaving the house and socialising throughout the day is a given, but if you’re retired or have a chronic condition that means you’re homebound, this can be more of a challenge.
Start small and try walking around your street, saying hello to people or even just smiling and acknowledging them – you’ll be surprised at how good it makes you feel!
Gradually aim to increase the time you spend outside, walking to your corner shop, then perhaps catching a bus or train to your local town and having a nice hot drink in a coffee shop.
Interacting with people on a daily basis can be daunting if you’re not used to it, but over time your confidence will grow, your mood will improve and you will start to feel less lonely, simply by being outdoors talking to people in your local community.
3 Join a new club or society
If you’re feeling isolated and would like to try something new, joining a new club or society is the perfect way to keep loneliness at bay.
Think of all the things you enjoy, for example:
- If you enjoy reading, you could join a book club
- Looking to get more active? Sign up for a gym class
- Want to improve your sewing or crafting skills? There are plenty of classes locally in your area!
Search on google and on social media sites like Facebook to look for local events and clubs near you.
4 Volunteer your time
Volunteering gives you purpose and helps you make friends along the way. You can volunteer at local events in your community as a one-off or commit your time to charities. For example, you could work a few hours in a local charity shop, helping to sort through donations and serve customers.
Have a look at your council website or visit churches in your area, who are always looking for volunteers.
5 Learn a new skill
Despite what a lot of people may think, it’s never too late to learn a new skill or educate yourself. There are a plethora of Adult Learning Centres across the UK, which offer new skills and an opportunity for you to socialise and make new friends.
So, if you fancy brushing up your photography skills, learning to cook or even want to go back and finish your Maths and English GCSEs, this would be perfect for you.
If you know someone who you might think is lonely, please share this article with them.
For more support and guidance, we offer a free well-being programme, which features a range of topics to help you look after your general health.