This week (9-15 May) is Mental Health Week, and this year the focus is on what loneliness means.

It’s probably pretty safe to assume that we all have known what it feels like to be lonely. Statistics show that currently 1 in 4 of us feel lonely some or most of the time. Whether for a fleeting moment or a longer lasting period, it can be hard to talk about and can result in feelings of depression or anxiety if ignored.

Anyone can be lonely. It has no common cause or outcome – we are, after all, all very different – but there are some factors that increase the risk including being widowed, being single, living along, being unemployed or having a long-term health condition.

If you are experiencing feelings of loneliness there are some simple things you can do to lighten to situation.

Talk about it

Connecting with a friendly face is a good step towards feeling less isolated. This can be tough to do, but it is important to remember that people may not realise how you are feeling unless you speak up. Talking things through with a close friend or trusted relative can help lighten the load, and you may discover someone else who’s been feeling the same way.

As May is National Walking Month why not get out with a friend and explore some of the gorgeous locations our county has to offer?

No comparing!

Although talking to others is a key step, it is important to remember not to compare yourself to them. Think about how curated our Instagram feeds and Facebook timelines are – people often only share what they want you to see. Check-boxing your life against the polished exterior of someone else’s may only make you feel lonelier.

Do things you enjoy

Fill your time with the things you love! It’s not so much about distracting yourself from what’s bothering you, but it can stop you from dwelling on it and potentially making yourself feel worse. Plus, it’s good for your wellbeing in general to do things that bring you joy.
Unpack your favourite hobby, grab a good book, organise a day out at a local art gallery or a games night with friends. If it makes you smile – make it happen.

Above all else, remember that the key to tackling loneliness is to do it together.

If you’re experiencing stress, feelings of anxiety or low mood, you can find advice, local resources and self-referral links at Health in Mind.

There is also plenty of advice on the Every Mind Matters urgent support page.

If you are worried about the mental health of a young person in your life you can find a list of resources on the East Sussex County Council website.