Most people feel lonely sometimes, for many different reasons. If loneliness is affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help. Loneliness has many different causes and it can affect people of all ages.

It is often linked with things that could prevent you spending time with other people, such as:

  • living or working alone

  • retirement

  • 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, and more recently the COVID pandemic has isolated 1 in 5 people according to a YouGov survey.

You might find it hard to explain to people why you feel this way, but talking to someone could help you find a solution.

Tips you can try to help with loneliness

Some of the tips below are not possible to achieve during a COVID lockdown, please read our COVID section instead,

  • Try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: jo@samaritans.org if you need someone to talk to

Tips During the COVID Pandemic

Things not to do

  • 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 are 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

When to contact your GP

  • 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

Urgent Help

You need help urgently, but it's not an emergency

111 can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone. Go to 111.nhs.uk or call: 111

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.

Find your nearest A&E