The start of November saw Britain’s highest levels of acute loneliness in the pandemic; 8% of adults were “always or often lonely”, representing 4.2 million people (ONS). We know that lockdown, shorter days and colder weather has an impact. But we may be surprised by the finding that:
16-29 year olds are most affected
Covid has prevented people from connecting in the usual way. We all know this but what people are less aware of is the critical part relationships play in our mental wellbeing. Social connection is more than ‘just having fun’ – human beings are social creatures and as such, we need to feel part of a wider community, supported and to genuinely connect with others at an emotional level.
Research by the ONS shows that the younger generation is twice as likely to struggle than over 70 year olds. Yet the stigma around loneliness means that people are reluctant to talk about it.
- We need to challenge that and find ways to combat this very real issue.
- Ask how people are really doing. Listen with your full attention and explore whether they are feeling cut off.
- Reach out to family and friends; recreate situations you are missing e.g. a cuppa and catch up, a movie night. Schedule regular contact with people and phone them rather than text to increase emotional connection.
- Look after your physical health; sleep, food, being active, getting outside boosts mental wellbeing.
- Join an online class/ course – they may not feel as fulfilling but they can be a lot better than feeling isolated.
- Learn a new skill such as a language or musical instrument.
- Find volunteering opportunities; try Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK
- Enjoy simple pleasures such as cooking, reading, music, looking back through photos.
- Structure your day to increase your sense of purpose and control, focusing on the important things that make a positive difference to how you feel.
Share your story by contacting me. Let’s break down the stigma and normalise an experience that has become the norm for so many people today.