How to cope with loneliness by keeping busy
Posted on 08 June 2022
This year Loneliness Awareness Week will take place between the 13th – 17th June 2022. It’s an annual campaign aimed at bringing awareness to loneliness and dispelling common misconceptions. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us have felt lonely at one stage in our lives.  That’s why it’s important we work together to reduce shame around this very common feeling.
Through the last few years our ability to connect and socialise has been put on the back burner. The priority during the pandemic was to stay safe, which led to social isolation and multiple lockdowns. Now it’s (mostly) safe to say we’re on the other side. We’re on the cusp of summer, the first ‘normal’ one in quite a few years. Many people are playing catch up on activities, events and gatherings that were cancelled or postponed because of the pandemic. Whilst those people will be busy making plans there’ll be others that are silently facing countless days alone. In those situations, it can feel alienating and disappointing to find yourself without plans and that’s completely understandable.
Talking about loneliness with trusted people in your network may help, be it friends, family, or even colleagues. It may be daunting but it’s the first hurdle to ultimately connecting with people and finding a path through. The Marmalade Trust, the UK’s leading loneliness charity has a wealth of resources to help you cope.
Lean into solo time
We’ve gathered some ideas to help you keep busy when you’re feeling lonely, by focusing on things that bring you joy hopefully you’ll remember that being alone doesn’t automatically equal loneliness.
1. Revisit old hobbies
Through the boredom of lockdown(s) did you dive into a new hobby? Some of the most popular ones included gardening, photography, painting, and DIY!  If you can think of any ideas that sparked an interest in the early lockdowns, but you’ve since forgotten, now could be a good time to revisit.
2. Watch your favourites
There is a mind-boggling amount of film and tv shows available to stream. With thousands of titles to choose from there’s something to be found for everyone, from the extreme niche to block buster classics. Revisit favourites or explore similar titles based on your past watches.
3. Read a book (or two)
If you’ve had your fair share of screen time, why not go back to analogue, and pick up a book. Reading is immersive, a truly great way to escape and relax. It can be quite tricky knowing where to start but there are dozens of helpful websites. A common and popular choice is Good Reads. It's an online forum and gallery of nearly every title, their slogan ‘meet your next favourite book’ describes it best.
For a more social approach, consider joining an online book club where you can meet new people and bond over a shared passion. Through the pandemic, we discovered the value of virtual meetings, though not quite the same – it’s possible to meet and make connections with others.
4. Explore mindfulness
The anxiety we experience from loneliness is often caused by over-romanticizing the past and spending too much time daydreaming about the future. Taking time to reminisce and plan when balanced is healthy - what becomes unhealthy is when that time is disproportionate to the amount you spend being present. The goal of mindfulness is to help you stay present and center you with the now. Explore our title ‘Getting started with mindfulness’ for more on this.
5. Make a date with yourself and keep it
This could be as simple as taking yourself for a walk at your preferred time of day. Making a plan and sticking to it reinforces good habits which release reward based happy hormones. Getting outdoors as we know is great for our mental health and when you’re feeling lonely, it’s healthy to get out into the world and see other people. People are social in nature, and it’s okay to seek out connection.
For help coping with loneliness, check out our other articles:
‘Feeling lonely? You're not alone’
‘Making friends as an adult’
‘How to make friends at work’
 Wellbeing and Loneliness - Community Life Survey 2020/21 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
 New hobbies taken up in the UK during lockdown | The Independent