Posted February 17th 2021
The government is telling us to stay at home and only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work, to stay two metres away from other people and wash our hands as soon as we get home.
Many of us are feeling lonely.
However, everyone feels lonely from time to time and these short-term feelings shouldn’t harm our mental health.
However, the longer the pandemic goes on, the more these feelings become long-term.
Long-term loneliness can be associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and unhelpful stress.
The impact of long-term loneliness on mental health can be very hard to manage.
It is a challenging and sometimes difficult time, but it will pass.
That means we need to adapt to how we connect with people and find new ways to stay in touch during this time.
Now, more than ever, is the time to keep up those strong social networks that to fend off the risk to our mental health.
There will be lots of shared activity, parties and celebrations in the future.
For now, let’s be as kind as possible to ourselves and others.
Like most people, my life and coping mechanisms are being challenged in ways I have never experienced before.
At times I have struggled to think of the months ahead without face to face contact with family and friends who are part of my support network.
I do keep telling myself, while I may be experiencing difficult feelings; it is OK to feel this way.
Tips to help
While we must all find our own individual coping mechanisms, I would like to share with you a few things I have been trying to do to combat my own loneliness:
- Staying in touch with friends and loved one via video calls, Whatsapp or just regular phone calls.
- Try to keep up routines where possible; for example, I try to go to the supermarket the same morning each week.
- Maintaining and keeping things in the diary. I spilt activities between personal, necessary and routine tasks.
- Planning and setting goals for 2021. For me, I am aiming to establish my own Life Coaching business.
- I like to plan future events in my calendar which give me something to look forward to and helps me strive for personal goals and aims, which have been aided by the assistance of a good friend who is a Life Coach.
- Maintain contact with your GP – I have a well-being catch up each month.
- Try and keep your brain active.
I have been researching and playing online quizzes with friends in areas of mutual interest. So far we have covered 20th-century history, the music of Bob Dylan and the ups and downs of Tottenham Hotspur FC.
- Keep trying to move each day.
I have kept my own exercise regime and the lockdown has given me the chance to really focus on my passion for cycling and tennis.
- I have made music part of my everyday life.I am even rediscovering my old 40-year-old C60 player; cassettes- remember them?
- Explore old hobbies; I have re-energised my love of art and sketching.
- Challenge yourself if you feel up to it. I have started to test my inflexible body through online yoga classes.
- Have a go at pleasurable tasks you may not have had time for before.I have started documenting my family tree, which has also given me the chance to get in touch with family to ask for memories and any potential photographic records.
- I find keeping a journal really helpful; I log daily inspirational quotes and things for which I am grateful.
- Getting to know your neighbours at a 2-metre distance.I have enjoyed accompanying a neighbour on daily walks and interacting with strangers, such as when I gave directions to a lost family while out walking.
A smile or ‘good morning’ can make the world of difference to someone’s day.
- Find support groups to discuss how you are feeling, for example, a weekly online Peer Support Group run by the charity Mind.
- I have started volunteering and have applied to become a Bi-Polar UK Ambassador
- Finally, try conducting random acts of kindness. Perhaps contact someone you know is living on their own; a message or a phone call could be a huge help to someone who hasn’t heard from anyone in a while.
I hope these tips have been useful and remember to reach out for help if you are struggling.
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