Loneliness Awareness Week takes place from June 15th -19th.
One of the feelings millions of us have and still are experiencing during this current coronavirus pandemic is loneliness. In our combined efforts to stay safe and save lives, our usual ways of seeing family, friends or just familiar faces have been put on pause. The government is telling us to stay at home, work from home, only go out if we need to and to stay two metres away from other people and wash our hands as soon as we get home.
Feeling lonely can have a negative impact on your mental health, especially if these feelings have lasted a long time. Some research suggests that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems and increased stress.
Hopefully, as the restrictions ease, we can get back to a more normal life and resume meaningful contact with friends and family.
Here are some tips to help keep loneliness at bay during this difficult time.
- Message, call or video-call family or friends you can’t meet up with as a way to support each other. It will help you feel connected, and give a sense of things continuing as usual
- You may be able to stream a film-watching party with some friends, or find an online singing group you can join
- Share your experiences of loneliness on social media – you might encourage others to share as well
- Start or join a virtual book or film club
- Join a virtual pub quiz
- Spend some time in nature or tend to some indoor plants
- Some people find it easier to have meaningful conversations while walking rather than sitting face-to-face. Consider going for short walks in public places (while keeping a two metre distance)
- Try calling a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor to talk about your feelings
- Join an online group or class that focuses on something you enjoy – that could be anything from an online exercise class, book club etc
- If you know a neighbour who is self-isolating, post a letter under their door to ask if they need help with groceries or errands
- Have a cup of tea with your neighbour (while maintaining appropriate distance)
- Reach out to a local charity and volunteer your support
- Reach out to a friend, family member or neighbour who is experiencing loneliness or isolation
- If you’re able to get out, smile and say hello to passers-by. Even from two-metres, this can make a big difference
- Make use of your community – many small local food suppliers will still be open, and can be a friendly place to say hello and chat.
If you are struggling and need someone to talk too
- To talk about anything that is upsetting you, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone), email firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you’re experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day)
- Text support, Shout is the UK’s first 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help, https://www.giveusashout.org/
Here is a self help resource about loneliness from Mind