Do you ever feel lonely? Are there times when it feels like you have no friends or that they are hanging out without you?

In a time when everyone seems so keen to share the highlights of their amazing lives on social media, it can sometimes feel embarrassing to admit that we have no friends or often feel lonely. 

But, it’s a more common phenomenon than you might realise. Young people regularly contact Childline either via calls, live chat or Ask Alex to discuss loneliness and how it is affecting them. You can read some of the questions and responses from Ask Alex here.

The important thing to remember is that, even if you feel lonely, you are not alone.

However, we also know that it’s  possible to feel lonely even when you’re surrounded by people who love you. Sometimes, it’s just a feeling that is hard to shake.

Here are some things you can do:

Think about the friends in your life

You may not speak to them much anymore or perhaps you don’t go out with them because you have social anxiety or are more introverted. But that doesn’t mean they won’t want to meet up with you one-to-one. Take a chance and get in touch with someone you used to be close with. Chances are they will be really happy to hear from you and be glad to hang out – whether it’s just a walk or calling over to watch TV.

Write it out

If you’re feeling truly stuck or lonely, despite having supportive friends and family, it might be time to think seriously about why you feel disconnected from them. Take the time to consider who you are, who you would like to be and how you could reach out and connect with like-minded people.

Talk to someone

We know it seems obvious and you might not think that you have anyone in which to confide, but you do. You have every right to seek support. It could be from chatting to your teacher, a therapist, an aunt or uncle or calling Childline.

Explain what you’ve been going through, why you think it’s happening and how you would like to feel.

Respect your mental health

You do not need to suffer in silence. If how you’re feeling is affecting your sleep, your eating habits or causing you to feel depressed, it is vital that you do something before things escalate further.

Instead of waiting for someone else to notice, take control of your life and think about what you need to do to make it better. It could be as simple as taking a walk to clear your mind, watching a funny show, reading articles about maintaining good mental health or asking your parents for help.

Be proactive

When you’re feeling down, it can be easy to blame everyone else or feel like the whole world is against you and doesn’t understand. And while you may not be at fault, it is still up to you to change your circumstances.

Join a club you think you might enjoy or sign up to learn a new sport or hobby where you will meet new people and potentially make a lot of friends.

It is important to know that you are not alone. Childline is always there to chat, listen and to help you think about who is in your life and who you would like to be in your life. You can call Childline for free on 1800 66 66 66 or chat with one of our volunteers at any time via the Childline website – www.childline.ie