Surviving Loneliness and Other Sad Times

This week's guest blogger is Meg, from the FLARE children and young people's group.

We all have sad times at some point in our lives. There are times when it feels like nothing’s going right and that we don’t have friends around to make us smile. Sometimes bad things happen to us which make us feel rubbish but we always get through them one way or another. I had a great time in my first few years of secondary school but when we hit year nine, my friends became obsessed with boys, make up and magazines – all things I wasn’t interested in. Suddenly, I had no one to hang around with and lonely breaktimes stretched in front of me.

I want to share some things with you that have helped me get through these times. Even if only one of these works for you, it could make a big difference.

Keep Your Hobbies Close

In lonely times, it can be really helpful to keep something with you that you can get out and do when you’re bored. I did lots of reading in my breaktimes and wrote stories too. Try to avoid your phone as you might get into trouble for using it in school. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t keep a sketchpad, magazine or knitting close though. If you have a particular hobby and aren’t sure if you’ll be allowed to do it in school, try to talk to a teacher about it and I’m sure they’ll understand.

Play to your Strengths

Think of things that you’re good at or that you really enjoy doing. It’s possible that there are clubs both inside and outside of school that you could join. This helps you meet people who like the same things as you do, and it distracts you from the sad time. I joined my school’s writing club which meant I didn’t have to spend Tuesday lunchtimes on my own.

Your school might have a scheme where you pair up with another student to help them with a subject or for them to help you. When I was given a History Mentor, I didn’t like the idea because I hated History! It actually turned out to be good fun because my mentor was really nice and she was fun to talk to. One less lonely breaktime for me!

Hold the Door Open

This is a weird one but it helped me. By holding the door open, people talk to you to say thank you and will sometimes start a conversation about something else if they see you around. Also, it makes you look helpful. Bonus!

Talk to Teachers

Ok, I was pretty desperate when I tried this! I saw my English teacher in the corridor and asked her how she was. We spent the rest of that breaktime talking about her new kittens! The point is that teachers can be fun to talk to. They are people too and they like talking about normal things because even they get bored of talking about teacher things all the time! If you want to give this a go but aren’t quite sure about it, start with a teacher that you like and feel you know quite well. Hopefully you’ll have some fun breaktime conversations.

Make as Many Friends as Possible

Friends at school are important but it’s also nice to have people that you can spend time with outside of school. I’ve already talked about joining clubs in your area and you could also look for events where young people can get together from all over the country. A lot of my friends lived a long way from me so I used to love going to see them in the holidays.

Give Yourself Things to Look Forward to

It’s really important to have good things to focus on, especially if we’re feeling rubbish. My mum used to bake on Fridays so I would sit in Maths, thinking about the big slice of cake I would get to eat after school. It doesn’t have to be cake; chocolate is a great thing to look forward to! Whether it’s buying something you’ve wanted for ages or looking forward to cuddles with the dog, try to keep thinking forwards to that next good thing. Out of all the tips I’ve suggested here, this is the one I use most often when I feel rubbish. I try to look forward to running a hot bath, putting in a bath bomb and lying for hours in the hot water before lathering myself in body butter and snuggling up in my pyjamas. It’s not the kind of thing everyone looks forward to but it works for me! Now your turn to do what works for you.

BBC Radio 4 is working with the Wellcome Collection on a research project into loneliness until 12th April 2018 as part of All In The Mind. Meg suggests that whatever your experience, you take part in the survey and help us all to better understand and tackle the causes of loneliness.