Tackle loneliness this Christmas: Tips for teens
When we think about loneliness, we tend to associate it with older generations. However, loneliness can affect anyone and everyone.
In a 2017 survey, almost two thirds of 16-24 year olds admitted to feeling lonely at least some of the time, In fact, a third said they feel lonely often or all of the time - showing just how common loneliness is among young people.
The causes vary from low self-esteem and feeling like they don’t fit in to growing apart from close friends or people they’ve grown up with. Some find it hard to talk to others because they feel shy or anxious. Others are going through personal issues or family problems. Many are living away from home for the first time. All these challenges can cause a young person to feel a sense of isolation.
It can be a great way to connect but social media can have a very negative impact on the general wellbeing of young people. Building social relationships is a fundamental human need. In the digital age, some young people struggle to form meaningful friendships and relationships on a face-to-face basis.
How to support teens
We’ve all felt lonely from time to time and while that isn’t nice, it doesn’t have any major effects on our health. Long-term loneliness, though, can be a real health risk. If you know a young person who you suspect may be feeling lonely, here’s how you can offer them some support:
Suggest they meet up with friends rather than ‘chatting’ over text message or on social media. It’s more personal and will make them feel better connected.
Encourage them to say ‘yes’ to social events - even if they’d rather stay home and catch up on the latest box set.
Urge them to join a sports club - being part of a team will give them a feeling of being needed, useful and belonging. Plus, keeping physically active can reduce the chances of getting depression and anxiety, which can stem from loneliness.
Highlight the fact that what they see on social media are the bits that people want them to see.
Get them outside. It’s true what they say, being outdoors really is therapeutic.
Listen to their worries and concerns and offer reassurance and potential advice.
Remind them they are not alone. There are times when everybody feels lonely but there’s always a way to reach out to other people.
Remember that every young person is different. Repeatedly asking that they do something out of their comfort zone could do more harm than good. Be patient and try to strike the right balance. Showing that you care and are interested in their wellbeing could go a long way.
The Christmas season isn’t always easy. If you’re a Benenden Health member, you can access our Mental Health Helpline 24/7. Whether you're suffering from anxiety, depression, bereavement or relationship problems, we can make sure you don’t have to handle it alone by providing access to an experienced therapist.