Tips For Christmas - Dealing with Loneliness

Published: 16 November 2017 Tags: Trans, wellbeing, TransMission By Louie Stafford

Amongst older people, rates of chronic loneliness have remained steady since the 1940s; with 6-13% of people over the age of 65 reporting they feel lonely ‘all or most of the time’ according to the ONS. But it isn’t just those over 65 who experience a lack of social and support networks. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 18-34 year-olds are more likely to feel lonely more often, to worry about feeling alone, and to feel depressed because of loneliness than those over 55. Those, from all age groups, who report bad health are more likely to be socially isolated, and the research shows that LGBT people are more likely to be isolated and have poorer health outcomes.

Louie Stafford, LGBT Foundation’s Trans Programme Coordinator caught up with some of his friends, family and colleagues, many of whom are LGBT, and asked them what were their best tips for coping with loneliness and isolation. Not all these tips will work or be appropriate for everyone but as we are fast approaching this the Christmas period we wanted to give people some inspiration to think about how they might combat loneliness.

1. Be your own date!

This was the number one thing that people said helped them, treating themselves to an evening of fun and pleasure. Whatever you’re into, cinema, food, walking, dancing or visiting interesting places! Don’t wait for the right person to come along and do it for you, you are the right person and your totally worth it!

2. Reach out

Remember your friends aren’t mind-readers, if you’re struggling with feeling lonely or down have you confided in anyone? Are your friends or family aware how you’re feeling? It can be beneficial to take stock and ask for support and company if needed. People can get caught up in busy lives and commitments especially around the festive season, don’t be afraid to ask if you need something.

3. Get Moving & Let the light in

If you feeling particularly low or lonely getting moving will likely be the last thing you want to do, for most of us hiding under a duvet with Netflix brings comfort in difficult times. But too much of a good thing and sometimes you can end up feeling worse. Getting moving and getting the blood flowing around the body is a really good way to clear the mind. If normally you don’t exercise much a brisk walk in the daylight can be enough to refresh the senses and help shift perspective. Be kind to yourself and your body. If you can enjoy sunlight and get outdoors if possible. Brighten up your home and workplace by opening the curtains and help defeat winter blues.

4. Get a furry friend

This isn’t always possible for everyone but lots of the people we spoke to said the best thing they found helped in coping with loneliness was getting a pet for companionship.

5. Join a club

Are there any local groups or societies you had your eye on? Is there a skill you wanted to learn forever but just never had the time of the resources? Maybe now is the time. Check out social networking sites such as ww.meetup.com to see what’s on in your area. Consider organisations you support and see if they have any volunteering opportunities. Volunteering can be a great way to meet people and help you feel positive by giving something back to others in need. For more information of volunteering opportunities at LGBT Foundation visit our website here.

6. Pamper yourself

We all have something we do that can make us feel good about ourselves, a relaxing bath, a clean shave, baking a tasty cake or newly manicured nails. Whatever your thing is, go the extra mile. If you enjoy bath get yourself down to lush and treat yourself to a special bath bomb lights and candles to make that atmosphere extra special.

7. Get lost in a good game/book/album/podcast or film

It’s okay to seek distraction from uncomfortable feelings sometimes, we all need a break if things get too much. Think about your favourite pastime and all the things you enjoy doing and pick something you can really get your teeth into. At a great way to pass some time also you can use it as an opportunity to watch that obscure Anime series or that local podcast you really love but no one else really gets. Music and stories especially can be invigorating and inspiring in times when feeling alone.

8. Befriending

Many charities offer befriending as a way to link people with others who might otherwise struggle to make connections and friends. For information on befriending services LGBT Foundation offer, please visit our website here.

9. Talk to someone

Talk about your feelings. Keeping them bottled up can mean anxiety, and other more serious mental health problems. If you’re struggling to find someone to talk to- consider reaching out to a local support organisation. Here at LGBT Foundation we offer a helpline from 9 AM - 9 PM Weekdays and 10AM – 6PM Saturdays, including bank holidays and Christmas and New Year’s day. Whether you have a issue you’d like to talk through or if you would like to hear a friendly voice. We are here for you.