Q I'm feeling lonely and it's getting me down. What can I do to feel less isolated?

I’m sorry to hear that you are feeling lonely. Spending time with other people enriches our lives and it’s a hard situation to resolve by yourself. But there is support available to help you make the first steps.

Loneliness has many different causes and it can affect people of all ages. Another way that loneliness can worsen is if we see the cause of our loneliness as something that will not change: that it is just part of who we are or of becoming older.

However, you do not have to be on your own all the time to feel lonely. Many people feel lonely in a relationship or while spending time with friends or family. You might find it hard to explain to people why you feel this way, but talking to someone could help you find a solution.

If you can, try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, carer, health professional or counsellor. Your GP surgery may be able to suggest people to contact locally that can help you connect with other people in your neighbourhood. First Step can help you if you are feeling depressed or anxious.

If you’re grieving for a partner or friend that you have known a long time and your sad feelings are holding you back from seeking a new way to live your life, without your loved one, therapy can help to let you think about your life in a different way. If you are an older person looking to make new friends, contact Age UK for advice and support.

Consider joining a group or class that focuses on something you enjoy; you could ask to go along and just watch first if you're feeling nervous. Many people find volunteering a satisfying way to meet new people – and charities are always looking for volunteers.

Try and get out to places where you can just be around other people – for example, a park, or a café.

Perhaps someone who has had the same feelings as you would be able to help – this is called ‘peer support’, where people use their experiences to help each other. You can telephone your local Mind to find our more, or Find out more about peer support on the Mind website. There are little steps you can take for yourself, such as planning something every day to look forward to (eg a phone call, watching a film, making yourself a nice meal), or stepping out into the garden, if you have one, or finding a window with a view to take in the ‘outside world’ and appreciate the nature around you.