Alcohol helps me When I'm lonely

Everyone feels lonely at some points in their lives but sometimes loneliness causes people to feel alone, unwanted, and empty When we are lonely we crave human interaction, friends, family, a significant other, however, because of the feelings of loneliness, it makes it more difficult for us to actually form connections with others. Many people can feel lonely even in a crowded room or with a group of friends. When you feel isolated or alone, it is how that loneliness plays in your head that really begins to affect our mental health. Self-medicating is a method that many do in an attempt to help handle the feelings or "numb the pain." Alcohol and drugs are the most popular form of self-medication and are used as tools because they briefly distract us from the pain we are feeling.

When you are feeling consistently lonely and in need of relationships and connections, there are several things you can do:

  • Volunteer. Helps to build your self-esteem , social skills, meet new people and build a bigger social life, develop a passion for something. Volunteer Ireland is a free resource to link in you with many organisations and services throughout the country that need volunteers. It has an excellent website that should be able to help you find a worthwhile volunteering opportunity. www.volunteerireland.ie. If you have a specific cause that you would like to become involved with, check out its website for details. SpunOut is Ireland's youth information website created by young people, for young people. Their vision is to help create an Ireland where young people aged between 16 and 25 are empowered with the information they need to live active, happy, and healthy lives. They aim to educate and inform young people about the importance of holistic wellbeing and how good health can be maintained, both physically and mentally. Check out their website at spunout.ie

  • Join a club or community group. Here are some of the benefits of joining a club; social exercise, participation, motivation, structure to your day, health and fitness, friendship and relationships, building skills. Check out Athletics Ireland website for details on your local sports clubs. Walking clubs are a great way to get you outdoors, increase your fitness and make new friends. Having a friendly chat with someone while taking in the scenery is an excellent support for your mental and physical health, Check out Get Ireland Walking website for details. Check your local supermarket information board for local walking groups and groups of all kinds in your area. You can even join a knitters club - check out Meetup Ireland for more details. Use the internet to see if there are any clubs for your particular hobby or interest or try something completely new to you.

  • Do a class/ course. There are many benefits of learning something new; it activities the brain, you get to meet new people and share an interest in learning, homework will keep your mind active, setting up or joining a group to discuss your projects increases your social circle to name just a few benefits. Your local community college might offer some all types of classes. Just like with volunteering, when you join a class that is something that is of interest to you, you will find other like-minded people and it is a great way to begin new relationships. There are many websites you can search for day, evening and night course ranging from part-time to full time courses. Nightcourses.com, adulteducationireland, findacourse.ie. You can also join local fitness classes. Check your local supermarket notice board and also Check out your local hotels news board for information on classes ranging from yoga to Zumba to swimming.

  • Catch up with old friends. We all have old friends, acquaintances and colleagues that we haven't seen in a while or have lost contact with, go through your phone and connect with some of the people you haven't spoken to in a while. You'll be surprised at the amount of people you find if you start looking, instead of waiting for people to contact you, contact them and ask them how they are and if they would like to do something with you like go for a walk or coffee or to the cinema. Try to avoid meeting in a pub or bar - you are looking for new ways to connect with people.
  • Take small but steady steps. Maybe you are shy and find it difficult to talk to people you don't know or don't have the confidence to start a conversation with someone. Start off by saying hello to people you see everyday - shop assistants, work colleagues, postal worker, people at your bus stop or on the bus. Comment on the weather, the news, ask for directions. Just start to make small connections every day and soon you'll see your confidence build as you get into the practice of smiling and saying hello to people. Check out Betterlife project.ie for tips on building confidence and overcoming feelings of shyness
  • Look after yourself. Meditate, walk, sing, dance. These are all free and can be done at any time and cab a great source of fun, relaxation and inner peace. Make sure you eat well and get enough sleep. Make sure your current relationships are positive and offer you emotional support, companionship and self-worth. Try to have friendships and relationships that don't involve alcohol. Spend time outdoors - go for a walk, swim in the sea, do some gardening or just sit in your garden. Fresh air and new surrounding is great for your mental health and general wellbeing. Learn to enjoy your own company and find yourself interesting to be with. This takes away the need to be around people that do not fulfil you and means you are only interested in quality relationships that make you feel good about yourself and others. Check out Iris the Dragon - Iris is an registered charity with over 20 years' experience creating mental health tools. Accessible digital mental health resources designed to provide support in each life stage. Mental health simplified. Resources for all ages. www.iristhe dragon.org. spunout.ie
  • Connect with animals. Adopt a pet from your local animal shelter. Pets can bring a sense of companionship, fun and friendship. If owning a pet isn't for you, then maybe volunteer to walk a dog for your elderly neighbour. You'll meet plenty of people when waking a dog and it's a great way to start a conversation with someone you don't know. If you are lucky enough to have a garden space, think about feeding the birds and watching them as they arrive in your garden. This will help you feel connected to the world and the bigger picture of life.Useful websites - Madra animal rescue - www.madra.ie; Cat and Dog protection association of Ireland - www.cdpa.ie; Irish society for the prevention of cruelty to animals www.ispca.

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