Whilst our mental health is something we're always trying to take care of, sadly between busy social lives and even busier work schedules, our wellbeing is often put on the proverbial back-burner. That's why it's great that we're being encouraged to prioritise our mental health throughout Mental Health Awareness Week (which runs from 9 May to 15 May).
The focus of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness, which we all experience from time-to-time, despite how "connected" the world now is through social media – in fact, experts have even suggested that this can actually increase the feeling of being lonely. And ironically, none of us are alone in feeling lonely either: in a recent survey that Cosmopolitan UK conducted over on Instagram, 84% of readers said 'yes' when asked if they ever feel lonely, with a further 86% adding that loneliness has a negative impact on their mental health. Over on Snapchat, the number of people feeling lonely was even higher, with 94% of responders saying they've experienced loneliness and a further 90% admitting that this negatively impacts their mental health.
How to deal with loneliness
As part of our online survey, we also asked readers how they combat loneliness. From listening to podcasts to phoning a friend, we've rounded up some of the most popular ways that you can deal with loneliness. But, it's important to remember that if loneliness is significantly impacting your mental health and your ability to go about your day-to-day life, then speak to your GP who'll be able to talk you through the possible treatments.
"Writing! Sometimes writing down that you are feeling lonely helps rationalise things"
"Writing my thoughts down"
"Journaling, as I cry a lot when I do it"
"Writing. Poetry or fiction, anything that helps me escape my reality"
Take your mind off things
"Reading, you're not alone when surrounded by literary friends"
"I make myself leave my home to go for a walk, to the gym, to get some groceries, etc..."
"Listening to music and going for a walk somewhere pretty"
"Doing something I enjoy, like baking or running"
"Listening to audiobooks/podcasts. It's like having company without [the] effort"
"Taking my mind off it by reading a book. Reading always helps transport my mind"
"Having a movie night with Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream"
"Loud music that makes me smile and puzzle books to keep my brain busy"
"Podcasts. It's like having people in the room chatting"
"Deep breathing, reading and listening to music"
"Going to get a coffee and getting to know the person making it"
"Watching TV shows that I loved as a kid"
Learn to love alone time
"Embracing the time alone as much as I can by doing self-care"
"Empower myself to appreciate my own company"
Move your body
"Walk the dogs"
"Yoga or meditation"
"Do some gardening"
"Go to a gym class. Most people tend to be there by themselves just doing their own thing"
Connect with loved ones
"Make plans with friends so I have something to look forward to"
"Reach out to a good friend. Voice notes help - it's great to hear someone's voice!"
"FaceTime a friend or family member. They might need it just as much as you do"
"I ring my Mum just to talk about anything. Reminds me I am loved and not alone"
"I message my best friend, she instantly cheers me up"
Enjoy some self-lovin'
"I'm not a big talker [so] I take myself on a little date"
"Doing something for me"
Avoid social media
"Spending less time scanning social media"
And our personal fave...
"Binge One Direction memories and tour videos"
Last but certainly not least
As well as sharing ways to help combat loneliness, a key priority of Mental Health Awareness Week is to remove the stigma that surrounds talking about loneliness – something which 61% of readers who responded to our survey (both on Instagram and Snapchat) said they would be embarrassed or ashamed to admit to feeling. With that in mind, we'd encourage you to be open with those around you – or reach out to a mental health charity, like Mind or Samaritans – if you're suffering with your mental health. As one reader said: "Be honest about it! Talk to your pals, chances are they get lonely too."
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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