For Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May), our coffee morning and peer support groups all reflected on the theme of the week which was loneliness – what it feels like and how to manage it, particularly when your emotional wellbeing is already challenged by mental health issues.
This is what they have shared with us:
Our experiences of being lonely
- We could feel lonely even when in a full room of people – as if we are just onlookers or observers.
- We can feel left out when in a group of people who are talking about things we can’t or don’t understand.
- We can be so caught up with our anxiety, even whilst surrounded by people that the critical voices in our heads take over.
- The loss of loved ones, family and friends can lead us to feel lonely as can the geographical location of some of those close to us who live far away.
- We can develop imposter syndrome when in a room of unfamiliar people – others thinking we are someone we are not.
- Worry that when people get to know more us they wont want to know us because of our mental health issues.
- Can feel left behind/left out from our peer group due to physical/practical problems which mean we cannot take part in our peer groups activities.
- Being shy stops us being able to participate in face-to-face groups.
- Ongoing mental and physical health problems can lead to sense of isolation and loneliness – anything that makes us feel different.
How can we manage loneliness?
- Support groups like Stress Matters allow us to connect with others who are like-minded without practical and financial constraints of travelling, all in safety of our own home.
- Writing down the pros and cons of going out can help us to see the benefits of going out and meeting others face-to-face.
- Accepting that our journeys are unique to us and that we need to go at our own pace in getting out into the world.
- Set a goal to help us get out – have a plan e.g. to get food shopping on a Wednesday.
- People use music to improve their mood daily. Listeners deliberately use music to enhance positive emotions and reduce negative emotions, or to regulate levels of arousal. For example, calming music can reduce physiological symptoms of anxiety, thereby activating a relaxation response.
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