Relationships we have with other people make up an essential part of our lives.
Research published by the Mental Health Foundation shows people who have stronger connections to loved ones, friends and family tend to be happier, have fewer mental health problems, are physically healthier and live longer. Happier relationships also contribute to lower stress levels and living in conflict or within a toxic relationship is more damaging than being alone.
If you're worried about your relationship and how it's making you feel, there is support available. Explore different types of relationships below and feeling connected:
Tavistock Relationships are offering free relationship support for all NHS staff and social care workers.
Staff will be offered between four to six confidential and flexible sessions (mornings, evenings or weekends) with therapists via online therapy or as an individual or as a couple.
If you would like to access this offer, complete our self-referral form and select the option 'Couples counselling/Relationship difficulties'. A Keeping Well practitioner will help signpost you to more information or download their flyer and get in touch with Tavistock Relationships directly here.
Relate is a charity that provides counselling services for every type of relationship. They can help with marriage, LGBT issues, divorce and parenting.
Marriage Care is a national charity, specializing in adult couple relationships. They provide support for couples and individuals to build and sustain strong, fulfilling, healthy relationships.
Having good relationships at work can help make your workplace feel more welcoming, make you feel part of a strong team and make your work more enjoyable.
Keeping Well Academy
Visit our Keeping Well Academy pages for support resources around team communication and reflection.
Mental Health Awareness Week: 9 May - 15 May 2022
The week will explore the experience of loneliness, its effect on our mental health and how we can all play a part in reducing loneliness in our communities. Many factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic, social distancing and lockdown meant that it felt more important than ever to consider how we are connecting with others.
Loneliness and relationships
Reports showed people felt a sense of loneliness and isolation undermining confidence in daily routines. In recent times, many of us have had far less access to loved ones.
Tavistock Relationships are offering free relationship support for all NHS staff and social care workers. Staff will be offered between four to six confidential and flexible sessions (mornings, evenings or weekends) with therapists via online therapy or as an individual or as a couple. Find out more how to access this offer or download their flyer.
Have a look below at some tips and resources we have gathered:
Connecting with colleagues
- Try to maintain informal social support in teams (face to face and remote). We suggest having lunches/tea breaks with colleagues – virtual or social distanced
- Use team meetings and existing structures such as emails, WhatsApp groups and Teams, not for normal work chat, but to wish each other happy birthday or ask how each other is doing
- Acknowledge the importance of informal connections at work
- Have a coffee or lunch with a work colleague
Connecting with a family member
- Fix each day/week or simple check ins with important people in your network
- Arrange a day out - do something fun or relaxing with them
- Switch off the TV and play a game with your children, read them a book or just talk
- Check in with a friend or family member who needs support or company
- Join a social group
- Take up a team sport or activity
Stay connected with friends
- Invite a friend over just because
- Send a hand-written note - thank you cards, postcards, or a simple hand-written note, taking the time to send out real mail to our loved ones is a beautiful, old-fashioned way of staying connected
- Make a phone call
- Host a game night
- Send a care package
Take it slow
If you've felt lonely for a long 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.
For example, you could try doing an online activity where other people attend but you're not expected to interact with them, such as a drawing lesson. Or if you're interested in joining a new group or class, you could ask whoever runs the sessions if you can just watch at first, rather than taking part.
Simply knowing that other people are there may be enough to help with some feelings of loneliness.
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.
- Try a befriender service. Various charities offer telephone befriender servicers, which put volunteer befrienders in touch with people feeling lonely. See Mind's page of useful contacts for details of organisations that run befriender services.
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. This could include online groups if you can't attend things in person.
- 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 Mind's page of useful contacts for ways to find groups that interest you, and for organisations that can help you find local volunteering opportunities.
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 one of our Keeping Well professionals, it is free and confidential. Start a live chat, or call 0300 123 1705 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 managing sleep 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 nutrition 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 health for more information.
- Spend time outside. Spending time in green space can help your wellbeing.
- 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.
- 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 substance use for more information.
Every Mind Matters lonelineness webpage for support and advice on dealing with loneliness.