Social distancing is absolutely crucial if we’re to beat coronavirus – we all know that. But going for days and weeks without seeing our friends and family is hard and lonely. As we cross roads to avoid walking too near to strangers and we stop visiting shops, pubs and gyms, more and more of us are finding ourselves totally isolated – even if we’re not shielding.
Some folk will be used to this level of loneliness and this crisis offers us an opportunity to better empathise with those for whom chronic isolation is an every day reality. For others, this will be the first time that they’ve been physically alone for a long time (or ever).
Once social distancing is lifted, think about volunteering for a charity which seeks to combat loneliness. Good Gym is a great charity; it organises runs to elderly people who are lonely so that you get a workout and they get some company. Age UK also works to pair people up with older, isolated people.
In the meantime, here are a few tips for how to beat isolation during lockdown:
Get on Zoom / House Party / WhatsApp video
Forget texting your mates or emailing your family – it’s never been more important to pick up the phone for a chat. Thanks to a host of different apps, you don’t have to go a day without seeing your loved ones’ faces while you have a convo either.
You can even host quizzes or drinks parties on Zoom (you just have to set up a meeting and send out the PIN to whoever you want to invite).
Have a movie night
If you have Netflix, you can set it to ‘party’ mode – allowing you to watch a film or series at the same time as your friends. It synchronises video playback and adds group chat to your favourite Netflix shows.
Simply download Netflix Party to get started.
Meet up with your neighbours…but keep it 2m apart
You don’t have to stop chatting to your neighbours. In fact, many of us rely on our neighbours to keep us sane at the best of times. You can still catch up with them, have a cup of tea or wine…you just have to keep it 2 metres apart (i.e. you standing on your own property and talking across the flower beds or fence) and provide your own refreshments.
If you’ve both got front driveways, why not set yourselves up on either side of the divide?
Turn on the radio
It’s an obvious one but don’t underestimate the power of radio. The BBC has taken part in a number of cross-station initiatives to boost moral and keep us all connected, including The Great British Singalong. Radio 4 is dedicating the last few minutes of The Today Programme to performers who have had their performances cancelled due to the virus so you can hear beautiful music, snippets from plays and more.
Not your thing? Don’t forget that there are tonnes of podcasts out there on every subject under the sun!
Use the time to rediscover yourself
Cliche as it may sound, how often do we get a significant period of time to focus on ourselves? If we go on holiday, we’re busy visiting places of interest or working on our tans. If we have a weekend, we’re rushing around to meet people, do DIY, workout, plan meals for the week ahead. Now we have weeks if not months to really focus on us – what we feel, what we want to achieve.
You might want to keep a journal or start meditating…or you could just pick up a hobby you used to love but never seem to have time to do these days. You don’t have to be productive or learn anything new right now but just do what makes you feel happy and more like yourself.
Join an online community
The internet is buzzing even harder than ever these days as people turn to their phones, tablets and computers to connect with people.
If you’re single and have Facebook, look into joining The Single Supplement – a fantastic, positive space for single people. If you like running, there are tonnes of running communities online. Vegan? Why not join Vegan UK? Whatever your interest or situation, there’s a group for you out there. And of course, talkhealth is a buzzing community of its own so don’t forget that you can chat with likeminded people on our forums any time!
Get into a routine
It’s easy to feel listless, bored and lonely when you’re working from home and have no social plans. Routine is so important for keeping your spirits up.
Plan when you’re going to get up, what time you’ll have your meals, when and what you plan to do for exercise and which days you’re going to lazy in front of the TV in the evenings and when you’re going to read or do another kind of activity.
Rest in the knowledge that other people are in your position
It’s one thing having FOMO (fear of missing out) when your friends are all out on the weekend and you’re stuck inside, and it’s quite another to be at home along with everyone else. You’re not the only person struggling right now – everyone is in the same boat. There are so many people who live on their own who won’t see someone aside from the postman for days and days to come.
You’re not alone but that doesn’t mean that how you feel isn’t valid. Remember that you can always ring your GP or the Samaritans on 116 123 if things get hard. This time will pass and better days will come.