Many people have reported that the COVID-19 outbreak has dramatically affected their mental health and wellbeing. One thing that has become quite clear over the past 18 months is that we all need to connect; whether that is face to face or over the internet. It has become more difficult for many people to connect in person, and this has had a knock on affect to the number, and severity, of those feeling lonely and isolated.
Loneliness and isolation can have physical side effects, such as an increased risk of stroke and heart disease, as well as mental health side effects, like anxiety, paranoia, depression and suicidal thoughts. As such, it has become ever more crucial for us all to reach out to one another and find alternative ways to connect. However, there is support available and this article talks about some of the ways we can all reduce our feelings of isolation and loneliness.
There's nothing abnormal about loneliness - Paula Stokes
Tips for reduicng isolation and loneliness
Below, we have outlined some of the positive steps that you can take to reduce feeling lonely or isolated; these include:
Looking after your mental health, whatever that means for you!
Discovering / reflecting on your purpose
- Guillermo Maldonado once said: "Loneliness is not lack of company, loneliness is lack of purpose". Having a purpose is essiential for good mental health. And when we have a purpise, we are more likely to find things that we can talk about, share and connect with others over.
Telling your friends, family, neighbours or colleagues that you appreciate them
- Doing so will make you feel good and will likely open up a conversation that will reduce your loneliness
- You can do it by sending a gift, emailing them, writing a letter, phoning, or telling them face-to-face.
Using chatbots, dedicated helplines or services available for those that need to talk to someone friendly or need crisis support.
Joining creative or learning based activities, whether face-to-face or online
- You can join activities and classes such as art, sewing or photography;
- Try local community groups, such as a men’s / women’s groups, parents and toddlers groups or Nordic walking groups.
- Learn a language, and go travelling!
- Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that you enjoy and helps you connect!
Pet an animal (tip: you can borrow other people’s animals!)
- Volunteer to helo a local dog-walker
- Visit a friend and pet their animal
- Provide help for those that need someone to look after their pet whilst they go away
- there are a number of online communities such as borrow my doggy or share your pet that help you find local people who need support
Volunteering or giving back to those in need.
- Volunteering increases self-confidence, helps us to connect, makes us feel good and helps the community.
- Our student development programme supports individuals who want to return to work or access volunteering opportunities.
Say yes to meeting with others, whether face-to-face or over the internet
- You can play games, share jokes, go for a walk, join a local event or learn a new skill together, such as by going to a social group.
- Remember to stay present at the time you are interacting with them.
evelop your existing skills or learn something new
Join online communities, like writing groups, interior design or dog owner groups
- There are a number of resources and support available for those concerned with accessing the internet or who need to locate suitable equipment
- Join some of our courses to hear from our students about how the college reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation for them.
- Contact us to speak to our friendly team or read student testimonials to learn more about how the college can support you
Debt help, feeling suicidal and help with depression, stress and anxiety.
For those in financial difficulty, there are a number of services available and we encourage those who need support to visit their local council or citizen advice bureau for debt advice. You can also get support at your local job centre or visit online services like Stepchange, whom help people to access foodbanks and signposts to other services providing support for low-income families.
If you need help in a mental health crisis, the quickest way to get help at any time of the day or night is to call the free-phone number: 0800 6444 101, or call NHS 111 and select option 2 for mental health services.
In the case of serious illness or injury, dial 999 for emergency services. Alternatively, contact Samaritans: Tel: 116 123, 24 hours a day, every day or Sane: Out of hours helpline Tel: 0300 304 7000 from 4.30pm-10.30pm every day. For help to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, our understanding depression, understanding stress and understanding anxiety courses may help.