When the Covid-19 pandemic first hit the UK, none of us realised the impact it would have long-term. In order to flatten the curve and save the NHS, we were advised to stay inside and socially distance ourselves from our friends and loved ones.
For many households, this was a relatively easy adjustment. Once the panic buying subsided and everyone calmed down, our idea of ‘normal’ shifted and we each adapted accordingly. Online socialising became an instant trend, with everyone turning to Zoom calls and social media to stem the boredom and stay connected, and most of us listened to the advice to ‘stay inside and stay safe’.
Good intentions are admirable; however, doing the right thing comes at a cost. Humans crave companionship, and for many, the lack of connection during a pandemic heightened feelings of isolation and fear. The distinct lack of human connection made the passing weeks feel longer and the return to normality almost impossible to predict. Coupled with a confusing narrative and conflicting information, it’s hardly surprising that reported cases of loneliness started to rise. For people who lived alone, or for those separated from their nearest and dearest, the toll on their mental health grew increasingly apparent.
Loneliness is such a real problem for so many that the UK government have set up a £5 million Loneliness Covid-19 Grant Fund to help organisations tackling loneliness for those particularly at risk.
In this blog, we’re going to look at five ways people have coped with loneliness during the lockdown. It’s important to remember you’re not alone and there are both things you can do to help your situation and there is also outside support available.
What is loneliness?
The feeling of loneliness is a deeply personal experience, characterised by craving human contact more than once a week. Feeling alone, empty, forgotten and unwanted are sure signs you’re feeling lonely. While in this state of mind, the idea of forming connections with people can feel daunting.
Loneliness isn’t a mental health problem. However, loneliness can impact your mental health the longer you feel it, increasing feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep issues and stress.2
Tips for managing loneliness during a pandemic
1. Reach out to those you’ve lost touch with
Many of us think we’re alone when, really, we’ve just lost touch or drifted apart from the people who were once dear to us. It’s worth thinking about whether you have anyone in your life you can to talk to and start to reconnect with. Although it can be daunting, most people will be happy to hear from you.
2. Make new connections
Be sure to take your time and only do what you feel comfortable with. While we’re in lockdown, consider joining a new Facebook or Instagram group – especially those with interests or hobbies that match your own. You can also search for online groups that have people looking for ways to forge new connections while in isolation. The wonderful thing about the internet is, there’s always someone, somewhere going through the same thing as you.
3. Peer support
Many services are adapting to the lockdown rules by taking their advice and support online. Various peer support groups and befriender services such as Elefriends offer a place of community for those struggling with feelings of isolation. They can be incredibly empowering and welcoming places full of like-minded people wanting to make new friends.
4. Lots of self-care
We don’t just mean baths and yoga (although they’re wonderful too!) When we talk about self-care, it covers a range of behaviours, such as:
- not comparing yourself to others;
- forgiving yourself for your bad days;
- avoiding bad habits (such as excessive drinking) to cope with isolation;
- being sure to eat well and get enough sleep;
- being sure to healthily indulge; and
- exercising (even a little bit!) to release those wonderful endorphins.
We encourage anyone reading this to make use of your daily exercise allowance and go on a walk. Nature is thriving right now, so it’s the best time to see what it has to offer.
5. Remember that lockdown will end!
The world might not look the same once the Coronavirus is under control, but there is an end to the pandemic and a new start on the horizon. Hang in there and enjoy the quiet while it lasts.
1. Gov.uk. £5 million Loneliness Covid-19 Grant Fund. Source article:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/5-million-loneliness-covid-19-grant-fund
2. Very Well Mind. The Health Consequences of Loneliness. Source article: https://www.verywellmind.com/loneliness-causes-effects-and-treatments-2795749
[RF1]Should we have something on our blogs to reiterate what Be Female is about and hence the article – in effect that its about helping to empower for a better happier life (but better words).
[RF2]need to source this definition
[RF3]we don’t have this so need something else from the Be Female webpage and also see if we can link in any other Be Female pages