Loneliness affects people of all ages and from all walks of life and we know that because of the pandemic, many people are experiencing isolation for the very first time. Although life is beginning to feel closer to normal for many people, we are still in a critical stage when it comes to tackling loneliness, there is a large number of people who felt lonely before the pandemic and will continue to do so as lockdown restrictions ease and some people will have also lost their confidence.
At different points in our lives we may feel bored, lonely, or isolated and need a change. These life circumstances can range from having a young child, being consumed by work or family life, retirement, living alone, old age, having a relationship breakdown, or just being fed up with singledom. The list could go on. All of this is normal and so very common, but it can also be uncomfortable and even debilitating when we’re going through it.
It helps to keep in touch with those around you – talk to friends and family, sometimes a friendly chat can make a big difference. An email or a text can start a conversation, so if there is someone you have lost contact with, this might be the time to get back in touch. If you can’t reach out to friends or family, or you want to talk to someone in a similar situation there are some great online support organisations such as NHS Mental Health and Wellbeing or Every Mind Matters.
Join an online group – Being part of a group or club that already has a shared interest with you is a great way to make connections. Think about the activities you do that are part of who you are and look for groups centred on these activities. This could be gaming, singing, cooking, sport – anything that you enjoy doing and talking about with other people.
Volunteering for a cause you believe in can provide the same benefits as taking a class or joining a club, meeting others, being part of a group, and creating new experiences. It also brings the benefits of altruism and can help you find more meaning in your life. In addition to decreasing loneliness, this can bring greater happiness and life satisfaction. Additionally, working with those who have less than you can help you feel a deeper sense of gratitude for what you have in your own life
Think about people you know who might be finding this time particularly difficult or those who may be anxious about restrictions easing, and make an effort to connect with them. Sending a text, email or card can really make someone’s day. Or you could suggest making the check in a regular part of your weekly routine and plan the next one.
Remember that feeling lonely for a long time can make it harder for people to make new connections. It may be difficult for people experiencing loneliness to respond to your friendly contact at first, so be patient and kind.