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Ask the expert: How to cope with loneliness

Ask the expert: How to cope with loneliness

Tips on how to deal with loneliness, whether you're suffering yourself or looking after a loved one, from cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist Denise Iordache

How did you become a specialist in loneliness?

I started my practice specialising in sleep disorders, and soon came to realise how strongly loneliness was linked with poor sleep.

I’ve expanded on my skills and understanding of loneliness in order to know how I could best serve my clients.

What is loneliness?

Lonely older man staring out of window from homeLoneliness and solitude are not necessarily the same thing—loneliness is what happens when we cannot make meaningful connections

It’s an emotion. We probably all experience it at some point, but loneliness is very complex and unique to each of us.

There’s a big difference between loneliness and solitude. Being alone is a choice, whereas feeling lonely isn’t something we impose on ourselves.

You want to be around people, but something is making you feel unwanted, empty or isolated, so you’re not having the meaningful connection you seek.

When does it become a problem?

When it becomes chronic, when you’re feeling lonely over a long period of time. It can turn into a mental and physical health problem, and can be a symptom or cause of depression. It can affect self-esteem.

You might turn to food and not feel motivated to exercise, as chronic loneliness is linked to increased risk of high blood pressure, obesity and even dementia.

How can you manage loneliness?

Accept and acknowledge it. Loneliness is a valid feeling. Don’t brush it under the carpet, as that doesn’t help solve the problem. Seek joy in little things, like smelling a flower or a walk in nature. Celebrate each small achievement.

When you decide to change things and seek a connection with others, consider a like-minded group. A client of mine joined a sewing group and it was very successful.

How can people help someone who is lonely?

Lonely woman confiding in flatmate on sofaReaching out and listening in a non-judgemental way can help a lonely person feel less alone

The best approach is to sensitively ask how they are and what they’re doing, and listen to the answer in a non-judgemental way.

If you want to invite them to do something with you, do it. If they say no, don’t be discouraged from asking again. They might need time before feeling ready to say yes. 

For more information, visit Joy Space Therapy and the NHS's website

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