Life

Dealing with loneliness: why it’s so important to admit when we’re lonely

Posted by
Lauren Geall
Published
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites
A woman on the phone

Whether you’re struggling with feelings of loneliness or want to support someone else, simply talking about how you’re feeling could be more powerful than you realise.

With lockdown 3.0 set to last for at least another couple of weeks, looking after yourself and your mental health has never been so important.

The pandemic has taken its toll on all aspects of mental health – and one of the biggest factors driving this rise has of course been the feelings of loneliness many people are experiencing as a result of having to stay at home.

Whether you’re living on your own, missing the buzz of the workplace environment or are struggling to feel connected to loved ones, the isolation required to curb the spread of the virus has been hard on us all. 

And while talking to friends or family members over Zoom may mitigate some of those feelings, it can still feel uncomfortable to admit when we’re struggling: despite the common conception that old people are most likely to be afflicted by loneliness, an October 2019 YouGov survey revealed that 25% of 25-34-year-olds feel lonely “often” or “all the time” compared to only 9% of those aged 55+. 

You may also like

Lockdown 3 and mental health: how to cope if you’re struggling with the current restrictions

Speaking to Stylist, the UK’s loneliness minister Baroness Diana Barran explains that the stigma that remains around loneliness – that it’s something which doesn’t affect young people or that it’s something very few people deal with – is still a massive issue. 

“Very often people think that it’s quite an unusual thing,” she explains. “They think that it’s their fault, that somehow they’re inadequate, and that’s why they feel lonely. Of course we know that actually, and particularly at the moment in the current situation, many, many people experience loneliness. It’s an entirely natural thing to feel. And actually, we also know that just talking to somebody else about it can help relieve your loneliness.”

A woman feeling lonely
As a result of the coronavirus lockdown, many people are struggling with feelings of loneliness.

Indeed, as Barran explains, one of the most important things we can do to help those around us is open up about what’s going on inside our heads. Speaking about how we’re feeling – whether or not we’re struggling with loneliness – helps the people around us to feel more comfortable about opening up.

“At the moment, if you’re not in the same house as somebody you’re worried about, you can pick up the telephone,” she says. 

“Then it’s about listening to how they are but also sharing how you are. I think admitting that you’ve had some good days and some bad days – which I think for most of us is probably pretty true at the moment – allows others to say, ‘that’s my experience too, I’ve had some rotten moments’ and they don’t have to pretend that they’re coping brilliantly.

“Being able to share those low moments as well as the times that you laughed out loud – the spectrum of emotions – is a good thing to do and is something that is, in a small way, healing for both parties. I’m sure I’m not unusual, but if someone rings me up and says, I’ve been thinking about you, I’m wondering how you are. You know, that’s just a lovely thing.”

You may also like

Feeling lonely? Here’s what to do if you’re missing your loved ones right now

If there’s one thing we can take away from the current situation, it’s this ability to be more open with each other. Being vulnerable and honest about how we’re feeling, especially on social media, will help to make things easier in the future, Barran suggests.

“I think that a lot more people at the moment are able to say that they’re feeling vulnerable,” she says. “And that sort of unlocks the door to a different kind of conversation, especially on social media – some people still have that more competitive mindset, but we’ve seen many, many more people admitting their vulnerability, including people you never thought might be vulnerable.”

Coping with loneliness

If you’re feeling lonely at the moment, it’s important to understand that you’re not alone. The coronavirus lockdown has left many people feeling isolated – but reaching out and talking about how you’re feeling can make a difference. To find out more about coping with loneliness during the coronavirus lockdown, you can check out these three articles:

For more information on coping with loneliness and taking care of your mental health, including organisations that might be able help, you can check out the NHS loneliness pages or visit the Mind website.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Getty/Unsplash

Topics

Share this article

Author

Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s junior digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

Recommended by Lauren Geall

People

"The appointment of a minister for loneliness is hypocritical, but it gives me hope"

The British government has appointed its first ever minister for loneliness

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe
Published
Life

Feeling lonely? Here’s how to tell when you’re struggling (and what you can do about it)

Because being isolated from your loved ones is difficult.

Posted by
Lauren Geall
Published
Long Reads

Feeling lonely during lockdown? You need to read this

Practical things you can do if you miss your friends and family during lockdown.

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe
Published
Long Reads

Feeling lonely? Here’s how to beat the 4 types of loneliness

Over nine million Brits say they feel lonely. Here, an expert shares her advice.

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe
Published
Life

“Hearing others talk about how they feel in lockdown has made me feel less alone”

“Sharing where our minds are at and all the weird and unfamiliar feelings we’re experiencing is something we wouldn’t have considered doing pre-lockdown.”

Posted by
Lauren Geall
Published