How can I cope with feelings of parental loneliness?

Feelings of loneliness can happen for many different reasons. You may be a new parent, have moved to a new place, or unable to access your usual support networks. You may have experienced the loss of a partner or loved one, or the end of a relationship.

Understanding the signs and having some techniques to help you cope can make all the difference.

Signs of parental loneliness

In everyday life, you can experience loneliness as a parent in many ways:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or worried by things, but thinking you’re not allowed to ask for help.
  • Missing adult conversation or not being able to share how you feel.
  • Not having time to do anything other than ‘be a parent’.
  • Feeling forgotten about as a single parent.
  • Feeling left behind because you have health, disability or money worries you think others won’t understand.
  • Feeling cut off from friends or family, or anxious about meeting new people.

Whatever the reason for any feelings of loneliness, there are lots ways to look after yourself.

Ideas for coping with loneliness

  • Create a support system. Think of people you can turn to and activities that help you feel less lonely. It can help to know where or who to go to when you’re struggling with those feelings. Try writing a list so you don’t have to do the thinking when you feel down.
  • Tell people how you’re feeling. It can be scary to be open and honest with loved ones at times. But it’s normal to experience feelings of loneliness from time to time. Your friends and family can’t help you if they don’t know – they might assume you are feeling happy based on any texts or social media posts. It can mean that they don’t recognise when you’re low. Reach out to the people you trust and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Ask for what you need. Your friends and family members might want to help but not know how to. So, it can be positive if you can be clear about what you need.
  • Look at ways to fill up your time and feel productive. Staying busy and achieving your goals can combat moments of loneliness. You could make a daily schedule and fill it with a mixture of jobs and leisure activities. This is a great opportunity to declutter the house, tidy the garden, or even get the ironing done. You can include for meal planning and shopping. But make sure there is room in the schedule for spending time on your hobbies and self-care. It means that you will have a ready-made plan for those times when you feel low.
  • Think about volunteering or helping with something in the community. If you are able to get out and about, look for volunteer groups and projects in your area and see if you can get involved. It’s a great way of passing the time and meeting new people. It will also leave you feeling the fulfilment of having helped others, too. You could contact places like your local church, food bank or any nearby charity shops to get started.
  • Find new hobbies and interests. Think about things that you have always wanted to try or activities you would like to spend more time on. Try to find time in your day for them. You could join a virtual choir, or learn a new instrument with YouTube tutorials. Take up knitting and crocheting, or another craft hobby. Use what you have around the house or ask your friends if they have any spare craft supplies. If you’re able to get outdoors, embrace nature and the changing seasons: try a long walk or a bike ride.
  • Try something out of your comfort zone. Combat loneliness by challenging yourself to something new. It can be exciting and fulfilling to push yourself.  You could look for free online courses like those run by The Open University. Surprise yourself by studying, drawing or discovering baking skills you never knew you had.
  • Look for healthy activities. If you can get outdoors, this is a great way of looking after yourself. The fresh air, exercise, and access to nature will do you good. You may even bump into others on a walk and have a socially distanced chat. If you can’t get outside, look at things you can do indoors to stay healthy. There are lots of exercise classes and yoga tutorials you can find for free online. You could follow a guided meditation and find new, healthy recipes, too. These are all great for your mind and your mental health, as well as for your body.
  • Safely connect with other people. Think about ways you can still connect with others. We can still phone each other or spend time on a video call. Could you arrange an outdoor meeting and walk with a friend? Write letters or postcards to your loved ones who are further away. Look for an online group for parents or for people with the same hobbies as you. Or some charities have pen-pal schemes. These can help you connect with others who may also be feeling alone or isolated and is a great way to make new friends.
  • Increase your self-care and self-compassion. Think about the things that you enjoy doing to look after yourself. You could have a long bath, spend time listening to music or a podcast, read a book or write in a journal. You could get an early night, or give yourself a mini spa. Be kind to yourself and make sure you spend some time every day doing something that makes you feel good. Self-care doesn’t have to break the bank. You could take out books from the library or spend some time relaxing, with your phone switched off.
  • Know where to get help if you need it. You might feel that you need more help and support. You could think about calling your GP to discuss how you feel. You can also get in touch with services such as Shout, Mind or a local support group if you need to talk about your feelings of loneliness. Remember that it is normal to need help sometimes – and healthy to reach out to others when you do.
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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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