How to manage loneliness during social distancing

Jon Hawkins

I just wanted to reassure people that we are all still here and in this together. Even though we all need to stay physically distant, it is so important that we stay connected.

To help protect ourselves, our community and the NHS, it is crucial to follow government guidance on social distancing.

Many of us are feeling anxious and frustrated and quickly, we are all becoming more isolated. Isolation doesn't always mean you feel lonely, however, humans are social creatures. We need to be in contact with others or else that feeling of loneliness starts to creep in.

bumblee bee in a meadow

Jon Hawkins

Small acts of kindness

I went to the supermarket to get shopping for my grandma, parents and myself. I found it really nerve-wracking.

Everyone queued up, eyes fixed anywhere but at each other, eerily silent. However, a man walked past me coming out of the shop, keeping well over two meters away, but he looked directly at me, smiled warmly and gave a slight nod. That small act of kindness gave me the reassurance I really needed in that moment. I didn't know the man. A total stranger.

Those small acts of kindness cost us nothing. THey don’t put anyone’s health or safety at risk, but can make such a big impact on someone’s wellbeing and for that moment allow people to feel connected to another human.

Myplace video call

Virtual connections

I have always understood technology has an important role in modern society. It has rapidly accelerated ideas into reality and helped the world with all sorts of positive advancements. However, in recent years, with the rise of fast and unlimited Wi-Fi connections; we have unfathomable amounts of information at our fingertips (both fact and fiction) as well as that thing no-one had really heard of in the early noughties... social media.

It is common place to see headlines about internet bullying, cyber scams and trolling - technology has pushed many people further and further apart. That feeling of loneliness creeps back in. I have become resentful of technology and what a negative impact it can have on our wellbeing. I guess you'd consider me a bit of a technophobe. 

However, during the current situation, I'm giving technology a second chance and I'm so glad I have! It has enabled me to keep in touch with my friends through messaging. Many of us have taken it further and regularly video call each other. I have played board games with my parents and been able to continue working with colleagues - all online. We are currently speeding ahead with creating a digital Myplace offer, where we will be able to deliver virtual Myplace ecotherapy sessions live with participants.

Being able to chat with people face to face, but in totally different parts of the country and world has really fulfilled that need for social contact and made me feel much less alone. I would urge you, even if you’re not sure how to use the smartphone you got given last Christmas, or don’t like seeing your face on the screen, give technology a go – to see someone’s face and hear their voice live is a brilliant way to feel connected.  

Two greenfinches and a goldfinch on a bird seed feeder

Gillian Day

Connect through nature and the Five Ways to Wellbeing

Even with technology providing a helping hand in combating that feeling of loneliness, we still need to make an extra effort to look after our wellbeing. By looking after ourselves we will stock up on the resilience needed to tackle these tough times.

I've found the best way to look after my mental health and make sure I achieve the Five Ways to Wellbeing daily, is to turn to nature. Normally I spend very little time in the house. I am always out, gallivanting in the local woods, trekking in the hills or visiting local nature reserves. Rarely do I take the time to enjoy my immediate surroundings. Being confined to my house has unleashed a new sense of creativity. I am taking time to take notice and appreciate the plethora of wildlife that lives on my doorstep.

Over the past few weeks I've noticed the hawthorn bush go from being completely naked to being covered in small buds. Over the past few days, these have started to shoot bright green, fresh little leaves. The birds are so loud! A few times a day, I stop for a moment by the window and just listen. I find their songs, chirps and squawks very comforting.

Keeping active and moving really improves wellbeing. I've dug out my trampette and set it up in the garden. It’s definitely given the neighbours a laugh while I’ve been doing a ten-minute bounce each day. Using the daily hour out of the house for exercise has allowed me to go for a walk or a run, which has really helped to clear my head and allowed me to breathe again.

Learning new things and giving can be achieved simultaneously. A simple way of giving is to feed the birds. I bought some bird seed and tied a bird seed-filled mug to my clothes line. All pf these new birds are allowing me to wise up on my identification skills. I also dug a border in the garden and sowed wildflower seed; created a mini hibernaculum out of sticks and rocks; and shared advice with my friends about how they could make mini bug hotels in their yards. I am hoping these efforts, along with my future nature-inspired plans, will help local wildlife thrive.

Feeling lonely? Myplace is here, ready to connect

My message to everyone is: we do need to be physically distant from each other and yes it is a bit scary at the moment. When things get overwhelming, sometimes we feel like locking ourselves away and removing people all together. But please don’t; be kind to yourself and show others kindness, challenge yourself to try new avenues in order to connect to others, take notice of what a flourishing time of the year it is outside, see the flowers blossoming, hear the birds singing, smell the fresh grass growing after the rain. We need to remember we are still part of a real world. Now is the time when nature is essential to helping us look after our wellbeing. Most importantly, each day, make sure you make an effort to contact at least one other person. Lets stay connected!!

Remember, Myplace exists to bring people together and help people connect with nature.

Now it is more important than ever to really dig deep to help reach those most isolated, and give them a means to feel connected to other people and the world around them.

If you or anyone you know would like to join us at Myplace, please email myplace@lancswt.org.uk or phone us on 07738 102274.

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