Tips to manage loneliness
This section has some tips and suggestions for managing feelings of loneliness. Some people find these ideas useful, but remember that different things work for different people at different times. Only try what you feel comfortable with, and try not to put too much pressure on yourself. If something isn’t working for you (or doesn’t feel possible just now), you can try something else, or come back to it another time.
Take it slow
If you’ve felt lonely for long periods of time, even if you already know lots of people, it can be terrifying to think about trying to meet new people or opening up to people for the first time.
But you don’t need to rush into anything.
- Start off by going somewhere like a cafe, the cinema or a sports event where you can be around people, but not be expected to talk to them – you may find that simply being around other people is enough to help with your feelings of loneliness.
- If you’re going to a group or class, you could ask whoever runs the class or group if you can just go along and watch at first.
- Go somewhere it’s not expected that you’ll interact straight away, like a class where everyone is focused on an activity.
Make new connections
If you are feeling lonely because of a lack of satisfying social contact in your life, you could try to meet more, or different people.
- Try to join a class or group based on your hobbies or interests. See our page of useful contacts for ways to find groups that interest you.
- If you are able to, volunteering is a good way of meeting people. Helping others can also really help improve your mental health. It is also a good idea to check that you will receive adequate support from the organisation you are volunteering at. See the Hands On HK website to help you find local volunteering opportunities.
Try peer support
There are many different types of peer support service, which provide people with a space to use their own experiences to help and support each other, including experiences of loneliness and related mental health problems.
These are some different types of peer support which you may find useful:
- Try a befriender service. Various charities (e.g. Baptist Oi Kwan Social Services, Richmond Fellowship of Hong Kong, New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association) offer telephone and face-to-face befriender servicers, which put volunteer befrienders in touch with people feeling lonely. See our page of useful contacts for details of organisations that run befriender services.
Try to open up
You might feel that you know plenty of people, but what is actually wrong is that you don’t feel close to them, or they don’t give you the care and attention you need.
In this situation, it might help to open up about how you feel to friends and family.
If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to the people you know, you could try speaking with a therapist or a using a peer support service.
“Be brave and reach out to someone. It doesn’t have to be face-to-face; you could share a post on social media”
Talking therapies allow you to explore and understand your feelings of loneliness and can help you develop positive ways of dealing with them. For example, therapy can provide a space for you to discuss the emotional problems that make it hard for you to form satisfying relationships.
If anxiety about social situations has made you feel isolated, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may help. This focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour, and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.
While there is no legal solution to loneliness, there may be ways in which the law can help you if you have needs for care and support.
They also contain specific duties for local authorities to help individuals. You can also contact Clinical Psychological Service of the Social Welfare Department with your specific enquiry.
Be careful when comparing yourself to others
It is very hard to stop comparing ourselves to others. We all do it, but it can help to just be aware that things are not always what they seem from the outside.
For example on social media, we very often only see what other people want to share about their lives, and this can make us feel like we are the only ones feeling lonely.
It’s important to remind yourself that you don’t know how other people feel when they are alone, or when their social media feeds are turned off.
If you’re worried that social media might be affecting your mental health, see our information on online mental health.
And if you have a lack of confidence in yourself or your life when compared to others, and you think that this might be contributing to your feelings of loneliness, our information on self-esteem may help.
“I sometimes feel lonely when I am overwhelmed by human information – the news, social media, TV, negative gossip etc. – I feel so separate and different to most people”
Look after yourself
Feeling lonely can be very stressful and can have a big impact on your general wellbeing, which might make it even harder to make positive steps to feeling better.
Think about how some of the following are affecting how you feel and whether you can do anything to change them:
- Try to get enough sleep. Getting too little or too much sleep can have a big impact on how you feel. See our pages on sleep problems for more information.
- Think about your diet. Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can make a difference to your mood and energy levels. See our pages on food and mood for more information.
- Try to do some physical activity. Exercise can be really helpful for your mental wellbeing, and some people find it helps improve their self-esteem. See our pages on physical activity and mental health for more information.
- Spend time outside. Spending time outdoors can help your wellbeing. See our pages on nature and mental health for more information.
- Spend time with animals. Some people find spending time around animals can help with feelings of loneliness, whether through owning a pet or spending time around animals in their natural environment. If you find being around animals helpful, you could try visiting country and marine parks in Hong Kong, such as a wetland park – the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has a list of outdoor facilities around Hong Kong.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. While you might want to use drugs and alcohol to cope with difficult feelings about yourself, in the long run they can make you feel worse and can prevent you from dealing with underlying problems. See our pages on recreational drugs and alcohol for more information.
“I never feel lonely when I’m in nature. I feel more connected than ever when I’m walking alone through a wood or by a river”