Most people feel lonely sometimes, for many different reasons. If loneliness is affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help.
Support is also available if you're finding it hard to cope with stress, anxiety or depression.
If you're not sure how you feel, try our mood self-assessment.
Things you can try to help with loneliness
- try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: email@example.com if you need someone to talk to
- consider joining a group or class that focuses on something you enjoy; you could ask to go along and just watch first if you're feeling nervous
- consider visiting places where you can just be around other people – for example, a park, the cinema or a cafe
- consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website
- try the 6 ways to feel happier, which are simple lifestyle changes to help you feel more in control and able to cope
- find out how to raise your self-esteem
- listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides
- search and download relaxation and mindfulness apps or online community apps from the NHS apps library
- do not try to do everything at once; set small targets that you can easily achieve
- do not focus on the things you cannot change – focus your time and energy into helping yourself feel better
- try not to compare yourself to others. On social media you usually only see things people want to share
- try not to tell yourself that you're alone – many people feel lonely at some point in their life and support is available
- try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve loneliness; these can all contribute to poor mental health
Where to get NHS help for stress, anxiety or depression
Referring yourself for therapy
If you need more support, you can get free psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on the NHS.
You can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service without a referral from a GP.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you're struggling to cope with stress, anxiety or a low mood
- you've had a low mood for more than 2 weeks
- things you're trying yourself are not helping
- you would prefer to get a referral from a GP
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
- you or someone you know needs immediate help
- you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose
A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a medical emergency.
Causes of loneliness
Loneliness has many different causes and it can affect people of all ages.
It's often linked with things that could prevent you spending time with other people, such as:
- living or working alone
- illness or disability
- bereavement (losing someone or something)
- moving to a new area, job, school or university
- social anxiety (social phobia)
However, you do not have to be on your own all the time to feel lonely. Many people feel lonely in a relationship or while spending time with friends or family.
Other significant life events such as buying a house, having a baby or planning a wedding could also lead to feelings of loneliness.
You might find it hard to explain to people why you feel this way, but talking to someone could help you find a solution.
Find out more about the 5 steps to mental wellbeing.
Page last reviewed: 15 October 2019
Next review due: 15 October 2022