This week, 15-19 June 2020, is National Loneliness Awareness Week so why not take some time out to check in on your colleagues, friends and family? This year’s campaign is called ‘One Less Lonely Voice’ – taking the ‘one’ out of loneliness, to signify one less lonely voice.
Loneliness can affect anyone and people may be struggling having spent so much time at home over the past few weeks without seeing friends and family as much as they are used to.
It is key to remember however, that social isolation and loneliness are two separate things. Just because you might be socially distancing, it does not automatically follow that you will be feeling lonely. Loneliness is the unpleasant feeling you get when the contact you have is not the contact you desire.
The NHS offers this advice to those who are feeling lonely.
If you’re feeling lonely at the moment, the following tips can help. Different things work for different people, so try to find what works for you, and seek further support if you feel you need it.
1. Explore new ways to spend time together
If you’re used to doing activities with others, try to find ways you can move them online instead. Lots of people are now doing things like watching films, playing Scrabble or having dinner together online.
You could join one an online clubs and virtual social events taking place, and invite your friends and family to take part too.
Spending time in green space can help your wellbeing. If you are not shielding and staying at home, you can also meet someone outside for a walk or a chat, just make sure to stay at least 2 metres apart.
2. Be more social and check in regularly
Checking in with others and being more sociable on a regular basis can be a good thing to do, as creating a routine of contacting others may make it easier to reach out at the time you feel lonely.
You could try messaging old friends or colleagues on social media or text someone you have not spoken to for a while. Or set up a group chat on WhatsApp or Messenger if you prefer to talk with a few people at the same time.
Most of us love hearing from people we have lost contact with – and that’s especially true now. It may also encourage them to contact you more, or you could ask if it’s OK to have a regular check-in.
3. Share your feelings but don’t compare
Being able to share your feelings with others can help with loneliness, and hearing a familiar voice or seeing a friendly face makes us feel less isolated.
Telling someone you trust that you’re feeling lonely can help, and it may be easier to do this when you have had some time to chat and relax together first.
Remember that many people may only share the good things happening to them on social media, so avoid comparing yourself to anyone, as this can make you feel lonelier. Plus we can never be sure of what someone else is going through.
4. Do more things you enjoy
Filling your time doing more things you like can stop you from focusing on feelings of loneliness.
Entertaining radio shows or podcasts are a good way to occupy your mind and keep you company. You can also listen to audio books and join an online book club to talk about it with others.
Lots of comedy clubs are streaming gigs online, so search for something that will make you laugh.
Exercise can lift your mood and help take your mind off things, so try walking, running or make an indoor class part of your daily routine. If you’re exercising outside, make sure to keep 2 metres apart from others, in line with social distancing advice.
5. Stay busy by learning something new
Now is a good time to pursue a hobby or something you have always wanted to be able to do – and it can be a good way to spend time with others. If you enjoy learning with others, you could join an online class, for arts and crafts, cookery, DIY or gardening.
Become a guitar hero, learn piano or join a free online choir, like the Great British Home Chorus.
If you want to do something that gets you thinking about other things, learn a language, as there are many online courses, from beginners through to advanced classes.
And if it’s new work skills you want, there are plenty of free online professional courses out there.
6. Volunteer to help others
Another way to stay busy is by helping others, which can also boost your mental wellbeing. You can volunteer during the coronavirus outbreak from home or in your community, but follow the government guidelines if you are going out.
You may even make new friends while volunteering.
7. Join an online community
If you’re struggling with feelings of loneliness or other mental health issues, remember you’re not alone.
There are also many helplines and support groups that offer expert advice and cover a range of mental health issues.
Andover Mind is a support group in Andover that can help, visit their website here
You can read more about the #LetsTalkLoneliness week here
Did you know we have a whole page under the community hub on our website which covers Loneliness?. Click here to view