In our previous article we explored the concept of loneliness to help people understand why it happens and who is more likely to be affected. The second part of this blog series will provide practical tips for people to overcome loneliness. You can follow these yourself or share with a friend in need. Keep joining our debate on twitter - @GuidepostsUK

  1. Don’t feel ashamed! – It is common to feel embarrassed or ashamed if you feel lonely. Perhaps you once had a big social life or an important career and retirement or health issues made this not possible anymore. Everyone experiences loneliness from time to time and others will understand and you are not to blame. Imagine if a friend was in this situation, you would want them to do the same and not feel embarrassed.


  1. Speak out – Opening up about how you feel is a crucial step. People will be sympathetic and it is likely that you will feel better once you have let another person know. A neighbour, an old friend, a close relative, or if you don’t feel comfortable you could speak to your GP.


  1. Call a befriending service – If you can’t leave the house often because of mobility issues or health reasons, there are many ways to get support over the phone. Silverline is a great service that teams you up with a volunteer who can give you a call to you each week. This can be a great way to build a connection with someone and have an engagement each week.


  1. Don’t rush – If you haven’t been involved in social activities for a long time the idea of seeing lots of people regularly can be terrifying. Don’t think about the bigger picture or commit to several activities a week, try to take one small step at a time. Start off simple, you could go somewhere social, such as a café, a park or a cinema. Being around people is a good way to get used to other people’s company and can be a helpful step to speaking to others.


  1. Stay active and meet new people – Exercise can really improve both out mental and physical health and can be an excellent reason to get out of the house. Lots of gyms across the country do weekly walking sessions and some are especially designed for people who are older or less mobile. You can find sessions near you on the NHS search tool. Community centres often have active groups that are suitable for all ages so take a look at the notice boards or call the centres. If you feel nervous at first, you could speak to the instructor beforehand to make them aware, or even ask if you can watch the first session to become more familiar.


  1. Find a new hobby – Take up something new and make it a sociable thing. Perhaps you could join a knitting group, try a baking class, or join a coffee morning. Men’s sheds are another great way for men to get involved in their community to practice skills, such as restoring furniture or building model trains. This is a charitable initiative to help men overcome loneliness and isolation.   


  1. Volunteer – Sometimes focusing on something completely different and giving to others can distract from your own loneliness. It can give you real purpose and even a boost in confidence. There are many options to volunteer with Guideposts doing a range of activities. Contact us if you are interested!


  1. Learn something new – Going to a public talk or a group can be a really great way to learn new things and meet new people who are similar to you. The University of the Third Age (U3A) have so many different activities for older people. There are always talks in community centres and universities that are open to the public so have a look at them aswell.

Can you think of other ways that you can overcome loneliness? Please share your experiences or tips with us so we can reach more people. Check back next week for our stories about overcoming loneliness at Guideposts.