Although for many people the festive season is a time to get together and spend time with loved ones, for others it can be a particularly lonely time.
Loneliness means different things to different people, but can be described as a sense of feeling isolated or disconnected from others, or feel like we are lacking or missing social connections and companionship with others.
Feeling lonely can happen at any time, affect anyone (not just older people) and be caused by a number of factors- such as the loss of a loved one, moving away from friends and family or losing social contact with others due to health issues, retirement, change of job or have caring responsibilities for others.
Even if we do have people around us we can still feel lonely and isolated, especially if we feel like we are not understood, or don’t feel cared for or included by those around us. At Christmas time these feelings can worsen when people see others celebrating in ways they are unable too.
How can I support others who are feeling lonely
Everyone can play their part, it could be as simple as taking the time to have a chat with someone and asking how they are or if they need any help with anything can mean a great deal to people. For others it may be encouraging them to take part in activities or attend groups. What is important is to not judge or stigmatise people who feel lonely, but to listen, show understanding and ensure that the person feels included.
Tips to manage feelings of loneliness
- Plan to do some enjoyable things that will keep you busy and stimulate your mind.
- Try to build everyday face to face connections by engaging with people when you are out and about, a simple hello to others or using the staffed checkout rather than self-serve can help with building contact with others.
- Keep active, getting out and about (if you can) in your local area for a daily walk
- Use social media in a positive way to connect and keep in touch with others or join online groups.
- Reach out for support and be honest about how you’re feeling.
- Join a community group or volunteer for a local charity.
There are lots of community groups and volunteering opportunities in Knowsley for residents who’d like to get more involved in their local community. Further information is available on the Knowsley Offer website.
What help is there if I’m feeling lonely?
There’s the Silverline dedicated telephone line (0800 4 70 80 90) for older people who need information, friendship and advice. It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
Age UK also offer a range of advice and support through their website or you can call their advice line on 0800 055 6112 – lines are open 8am to 7pm, 365 days a year. You can also sign up for a regular friendship call.
MIND’s website explains loneliness, giving practical suggestions for what you can do and where you can go for support. In addition, the Samaritans are available 365 days a year if you are worried about something or feeling lonely. You can contact them on freephone 116 123 or visit the Samaritans website.
If you’ve been feeling lonely for a long time, make an appointment to see your GP to make sure you are getting the right support.
If you or someone you know are in mental health crisis and no longer feel able to cope or be in control of your situation and need urgent help, you can call the NHS Mental Health crisis line. NHS staff will then support you to get the help you need. Available 24/7 for people of all ages. Call free phone 0800 051 1508.
Cllr Christine Bannon, Knowsley’s Cabinet Member for Health, said:
“Most people feel lonely from time to time. As feelings of loneliness are personal, everyone’s experience will be different.
“It’s important to know that help and support is available at the touch of a button or by picking up the phone. We can all play our part too by keeping a look-out for those who may be particularly vulnerable and for any neighbours, friends and family members who may be feeling isolated and taking the time to ask how they are.”