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Lifestyle

Coping with loneliness & low mood at Christmas... There is help out there...

By AGoldhawk 17 Dec 2018

Sometimes people forget that amongst all the glittering tinsel and the happy family Christmas adverts that Christmas isn't always an easy time of year for everyone. This time of year can be lonely for some and can bring feelings of dread, unhappiness, anxiety and low mood.

Loneliness can really impact students especially over the Christmas break, with friends travelling home and flats emptying for a number of weeks, some students can feel left behind and can begin to feel lonely, isolated and homesick.

Feeling isolated and missing family can be really difficult, so if you know anyone staying in Aberdeen this Christmas that might like a little company please spend some time including them in your plans. Some people may not always respond to your social invites, but please keep asking and don't forget them, as one day it might just be exactly what they need.

If you are having these feelings please keep reading for some tips and resources that may help you...

To begin with why not check out the below links for lots of online support:

Coping With Loneliness

(abstract from Mind.org.uk)

Feeling lonely isn't in itself a mental health problem, but the two are strongly linked. Having a mental health problem increases your chance of feeling lonely, and feeling lonely can have a negative impact on your mental health


Although most people need some kind of social contact to maintain good mental health, everyone has different social needs. You may be someone who is content with a few close friends, or you may need a large group of varied acquaintances to feel satisfied.

Have a look at these tips. They might help you to cope with feelings of loneliness.

  • Think about what is making you lonely:

Being alone is not the same as being lonely. There is nothing wrong with being on your own if you are comfortable with it. If you're reading this article however, something possibly feels wrong for you. People usually describe feeling lonely for one of two reasons:

1) They simply don't see or talk to anyone very often

2) Even though they are surrounded by people, they don't feel understood or cared for

Deciding which is the case for you may help you to find a way of feeling better. 

  • Make new connections

It can be helpful to think of feeling lonely like feeling hungry. Just as your body uses hunger to tell your body you need food, loneliness is a way of your body telling you that you need more social contact.

That means the simplest way to ease feelings of loneliness can be to try to meet more, or different, people. Can you think of anything you're interested in, a class or a group you've heard of, that could help you connect with new people?

Volunteering is a good way of meeting people. Helping others can also really help improve your mental health. search your local area for organisations that can help you find local volunteering opportunities.

We're not saying it's an easy thing to do. If reaching out sounds overwhelming, take a look at some of our ideas in Take it slow for inspiration.

  • Open up

You might feel that you have plenty of connections, but what is actually wrong is that you don't feel close to them, or they don't give you the care and attention you need.

In this situation it might help to open up about how you feel to friends and family. 

If you don't feel comfortable opening up to the people you know, you could try making new connections.

     

  • Take it slow

If you've felt lonely for a long time, or even if you're surrounded by people, it can be terrifying to think of trying to meet new people, or opening up to people for the first time. 

But you don't need to rush into anything.Start off by going somewhere like a cafe, the cinema or a sports event where you can be around people, but not be expected to talk to them.

If you're going to a group or class, see if someone you know will go along with you the first time, or ask whoever runs the class or group if you can just go along and watch at first.

Go somewhere it's not expected that you'll interact straight away, like a class where everyone is focused on an activity.

Ask your GP if talking treatments are available in your area which could help you manage the mental health effects of loneliness.

Visit an online support community like Elefriends. It's a safe and supportive environment where you can talk about your mental health, without fear of judgement, with others who share your experience.

  • Be careful when comparing yourself to others

It is very hard to stop comparing ourselves to others, we all do it, but it can help to just be aware that things are not always what they seem from the outside. 

Social media, and the fact that we very often only see what other people want to share about their lives, can make us feel like we are the only ones feeling lonely. 

It's important to remind yourself that you don't know how people feel when they are alone, or when their social media feeds are turned off.

     

  • Check how you are feeling

How are you feeling generally? Feeling lonely can be very stressful and can have a big impact on your general wellbeing, which might make it even harder to make positive steps to feeling better. 

Think about how some of the following are affecting how you feel and whether you can do anything to change them:

Sleeping

Getting too little or too much sleep can have a big impact on how you feel. 

> See our info on sleep problems

Stress

We might associate stress with things like work or family pressure, but research has show that being lonely also causes a lot of stress.

> See our info on managing stress or tips on how to relax

Self-esteem

Feeling lonely can have a big impact on your confidence and self-esteem, which can only make it harder to open up and make new connections. 

> See our info on improving your self esteem

Moving

Our mental and physical health are closely linked. Taking up sport or exercise can help you feel better in lots of different ways. 

> See our info on physical activity, sport and exercise

Eating

Exploring how what you eat affects your mood might help you to feel better. 

> See our info on food and mood


Mental health

If your mental health is having an impact on your feelings of loneliness, you could try seeking more or different treatment for it. 

> See our info on different diagnoses and treatments

Read others' stories

please follow the link to read other peoples stories about how they have coped with similar feelings:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/loneliness/# 

If you feel at immediate risk or are having thoughts of self harm or suicide please contact someone to talk about how you are feeling, here are some numbers that can help:

Breathing Space

A confidential out of office hours telephone line for people experiencing low mood, anxiety or depression.

Phone: 0800 83 85 87 Visit: breathingspace.scot  

Samaritans

24-hour helpline offering emotional support for anyone feeling down, distressed or struggling to cope.

Phone: 116 123

Email: jo@samaritans.org  Visit: www.samaritans.org

NHS 24

NHS24 is a 24-hour health service for Scotland.

Phone: 111    Visit: www.nhs24.com

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