On Mental Health Awareness Week, EquiTeam’s Liz Daniels chats about this year’s theme – loneliness.
As with all things relating to mental health and well-being, everyone’s journey and feelings are personal to them, but it got me thinking about being lonely and what that means to me.
In my teenage years I remember a TV campaign about elderly people being lonely, something which really stuck with me throughout the years, and something which until more recently I wrongly generalised loneliness to be something which mostly affected people who were living alone.
It wasn’t until a good many years later at a low point in life, that I had the hard hitting realisation that you don’t need to be alone to feel desperately lonely.
I’m a naturally outgoing person and I was surrounded by people and a network of people who cared – yet I was alone. Why?
Because I didn’t want to admit to anyone that my life wasn’t really going OK so instead of sharing how I was really feeling, and the things that were happening, I started to avoid those tricky conversations and the people who could help me.
Hindsight is a very wonderful thing of course and, although it isn’t always easy, the message here is to reach out and talk to someone you trust.
When I did start to talk to two of my close friends it felt good. I felt less alone and although my problems didn’t vanish it gave me strength and a more balanced view point. My self-confidence had taken an almighty battering, but guess who was there……yep – my awesome friends.
When Lou and I set about creating Equiteam Confidence Camps we wanted to build a fun learning platform for people to come and enjoy their horses, learn, grow in confidence and spend time with like-minded people.
Neither of us imagined how that would translate into a community and how supportive this community of people are towards each other.
The power of being in a community is that you are surrounded by people who understand. It’s not always easy to talk about how you feel – but honestly – it really does make a huge difference.
On the Mental Health Foundation website they say:
This for me hits the nail on the head. But if you are feeling lonely, what can you do to help combat it?
Top tips to combat loneliness
Mind.org.uk has these five tips.
1. Take it slow – as with all good things it can take time. But you are in control so make the changes at your own pace.
2. Make new connections – find a supportive community. Our new EquiTeam membership community is a safe place.
3. Try to open up – reach out to someone that you can trust – or alternatively speak to a mental health charity like Riders Minds.
4. Be careful when comparing yourself to others – Everyone is on their own journey and everyone is different. Make your own goals and celebrate your own wins. And remember – what you see on social media isn’t always the true picture.
5. Look after yourself – looking after your physical health is as important as looking after your mental well-being. Try and get enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet (rich coming from me – but the experts say it works so it’s worth a go!).
Be brave and reach out to someone.