The connection between anxiety & loneliness

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Hi my name is Viktoria. I’m 16 and I volunteer at The Mix. I’m interested in psychology and journalism.

Loneliness is a feeling we are all familiar with. Whether the cause was feeling left out, misunderstood or in an unfamiliar situation, we can all remember a time that we felt lonely. Perhaps looking back on those moments they seem trivial. I know that I tend to criticise myself for seemingly overreacting. While that may be true in hindsight, it’s a difficult feeling to process in the moment, especially if it lasts for a long period of time.

Recently, I have found the difference between being lonely and being alone. I enjoy my own space greatly and find that it’s needed but I struggle with feeling lonely, even in situations with a lot of social contact.

Personal experiences of loneliness

One of the main reasons I feel lonely is when there’s unavoidable distance between me and those I care about. For instance, when I’m working a lot and can’t spend as much time with my friends or boyfriend, it really affects me. The pandemic has been a huge part of this issue as well.

Losing friends and finding it difficult to make new ones is also part of it, since I always see groups of people spending time together and wish I had what they did.

How do anxiety & loneliness connect?

However, above all, my anxiety contributes to my feelings of loneliness immensely. Often I find that my worry consumes me, which is an incredibly isolating experience. I’d say my anxiety stems from not feeling good enough and this affects everything that I do. I worry about what I say, whether I’m performing well enough at school and work, whether I’m a good enough daughter, girlfriend or student.

When I start overthinking it, I subconsciously distance myself from people, which ends in me feeling lonely and affects my relationships negatively. This is how I often find myself in a cycle of my mental health making me feel lonely and then that feeling of loneliness damaging my mental health.

Additionally, I feel lonely in regards to anxiety when I try to explain it to others and feel misunderstood. The fact that they don’t understand makes me feel that no one does, especially if they are judgemental or tell me I’m irrational instead of being supportive. A lot of the time it’s because they genuinely don’t understand or don’t know how to help, but nonetheless it makes me feel lonely.

Due to all of this, I’m exhausted a lot of the time and find it difficult to continue with day to day life and be as productive as I’d like. 

Tips for coping with loneliness & anxiety

The tips below help me to deal with my loneliness and anxiety better:

  • Grounding myself using a variation of the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. The technique is to recognise five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. However, I find this can make me more stressed if I can’t think of enough, so I try to do one thing from each sense.
  • Slowing down – taking a break and doing breathing exercises.
  • Making small steps – for example, if you want to make more friends but struggle, try to make more small conversations, then progressing into longer ones. You could also try joining online groups that are based on your interests.
  • Try to find one person that can be your safe space. Make sure that this person is a good listener, has an open mind and is someone who is able to distract you. This could be a friend or a teacher. Usually, someone closer to your own age tends to be more understanding.
  • Pick up as many hobbies as you can that you can do alone, so that when you do feel lonely, you can distract yourself. I personally love reading.
  • Create a routine of looking after yourself. Every week include some self care time and try to keep up with healthy habits, such as a good sleep routine and diet.

How you can be helpful to others who are lonely or anxious

  • Show them that you’re available. Call and text regularly.
  • Be a space for people to vent and talk about what’s bothering them by listening and asking if they need advice.
  • Ask if they would like physical comfort.
  • Check up on people often. They may not want to open up to you but it will mean a lot that you care.
  • Reassure them that their feelings are valid.
  • Make plans to do something new if they’re up for it.

Useful resources

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 13-May-2022

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