How to Combat Loneliness

Learn some essentials on how to prioritise your wellbeing during the festive season...


Loneliness can be experienced by anyone and most of us are likely to go through it at some point in our lives.

Recent research has identified that young people aged 16 to 24 have reported an increase in feeling lonely.

However, there are also other groups of people who are more prone to feeling isolated and may require extra support.

Although loneliness is a universal emotion and can occur even when surrounded by people, it can feel very isolating. It can be difficult to express this vulnerability and to verbalise how you feel.

Loneliness can come from many different reasons; you may be surrounded by people but still feel alone, you could have experienced a recent change or transition in your life, you could have suffered a recent trauma, social media could play a part, as could cultural aspects - or it could be there is no obvious reason."

Loneliness can be experienced at any time of the year, although it can be heightened in the winter period.

While the festive season can bring joy and celebrations, research has shown up to 80 percent of people living with mental health conditions can see their symptoms worsen and experience more feelings of loneliness. This could be for many different reasons; from navigating family dynamics or experiencing loss or trauma in this period.

Here are some tips on the best ways to look after yourself during this time...

Do what is best for you

If you need to take some time to rest and relax, do this and inform others so they don't pressure you. Set your boundaries early. 

Plan how you are going to spend your time

Having structure not only helps you pass the time but provides shape to your day when regular routines are disrupted.

Give yourself rewards over the break

It does not need to cost money to treat yourself over the festive period - you could set time aside to watch your favourite film or cook yourself a meal.

Spend time with people you want to

You may feel misunderstood, lonely or uncared for, even when you are surrounded by people. Try and establish what you need in this period and surround yourself with people who bring you joy. 

Connect with others

Connect with other like-minded people, such as through a hobby or a charitable cause. You could volunteer - this will help you by putting you in touch with other people, give you a sense of purpose and increase general wellbeing. 

Take a break from social media

It is important to note that when people are posting on social media, it is choreographed and only a snapshot of their life. Try not to compare yourself to others - social media portrays the ideal, not the reality. 

Find and explore something new

Taking on something new can be enjoyable and rewarding. 

Explore somewhere new or spend time in nature

Research has shown that changing your surroundings and seeing sunlight can be refreshing and increase your wellbeing. You can make it more enjoyable by listening to your favourite music or podcast.

Engage in self-care

Everyone’s definition of self-care is different; there is no way to exactly say what self-care is. The rule is that it brings you joy in the long run. Self-care can help you cope with difficult emotions, provide strength and an increased sense of wellbeing.

The winter period can be a difficult time for people, here are some general tips in supporting others during this period;

Let them know they are not alone

Sometimes offering a space to be heard might be all someone needs.

Listen to what they say

Acknowledging their thoughts and feelings is important.

The festive season can mean different things to everyone

Try to understand that the views of other people may differ from your own. They may have experienced a loss or trauma. Ultimately, it is important to respect and understand them. 

Ask what you can do to support them

Everyone has different forms of coping skills, so ask them what they need during this time. Their coping skills may be different to your own.

Try not to make assumptions

You may feel that you know why the period is difficult for others, but you do not know how someone feels about this in their own mind. 

Try not to belittle or dismiss anyone's feelings

Statements such as 'everyone is enjoying themselves' or 'just be happy', although may be well intended, they can invalidate the feelings of the other. 

Don't force people into taking part in the festive activities

Again, although this might be well intended, there could be different reasons, including cultural and religious ones, as to why people may not want to join it.

Try not to take it personally if they don’t join in.

Look after yourself

Supporting someone through a difficult time can cause you to experience a range of emotions. Reaching out to others and sharing how this may be impacting you is okay, as your wellbeing matters too.

While Student Wellbeing will be taking a break over the winter period, there are other services available.

Student Space has a wealth of support available. 

●  The Winter Break Pack

●  Making the most of your time at home

●  If you’re going home for Christmas but don’t want to

●  Staying at university over the Christmas break

●  The role of sunlight in your wellbeing

●  Preparing to go back to university

If you need to talk:  

Papyrus has resources and coping strategies alongside a HOPELINEUK that you can call: 0800 068 4141.

Phone the Samaritans at 116 123 - it's free and confidential, 24/7.

Alternatively, text "SHOUT" to 85258 if you want to chat to someone about emotional difficulties.   

Whatever you’re going through right now, you can contact Music Minds Matter at 0808 802 8008 for free 24/7 support or visit

If you have a mental health crisis:

Please contact the following 24/7 phone lines depending on your address:   

If you are in crisis you can contact Brent. They operate 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year access to CNWL’s Adult Mental Health Services - 0800 0234 650 

Outside of Brent: Find your local NHS urgent mental health helpline. 

If your life is at imminent risk, please call 999 for immediate help. 

Student Space is run by Student MindsOrg is also offering support over the festive period. Visit

Finally, one last tip for when you are feeling lonely is to play music. It can help externalise and express emotions and help distracts you from negative thoughts.

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by Clare Soutter, ICMP Mental Health Advisor
December 7, 2023
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