County Training Manager, Shirley Sinclair highlights this the impact of being lonely and shares some tips to combat it
10-19 June 2020 is Loneliness Awareness Week in the UK and it seems particularly important to shine a light on loneliness at the moment.
Many people think that loneliness only affects older people, but that’s not the case. In a recent survey, conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, almost a quarter of adults living under the coronavirus lockdown in the UK said they felt lonely, with the most affected group found to be young people aged 18 to 24 – 44 per cent of which admitted to experiencing loneliness.
Human beings evolved to feel safest in groups, and as a result, we experience isolation as a physical state of emergency. While we still may not be able to connect face-to-face, or visit family and friends further afield, it’s essential to try to remain as calm and connected as possible over the weeks and months ahead.
It’s also important to reach out to friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and fellow Scout Leaders and supporters who you think might be feeling lonely (not just during the pandemic, but always).
Even though so many of us so often feel lonely, too many of us are ashamed to admit it. A Red Cross survey of 1,000 people found that almost 60 per cent of respondents admitted they didn’t feel confident talking about loneliness. A third more said they’d never admit to feeling lonely to anyone. Yet, simply talking about feeling lonely, like so many other emotions, helps.
Our need for social connection is at the heart of being human. But the coronavirus pandemic has threatened those connections.
Across the UK, we’re being asked to work from home where possible, big gatherings are being cancelled and the Health Secretary recently announced that the elderly and vulnerable could be quarantined for up to four months as a precautionary measure.
Whilst these are key strategies to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the measures could further our sense of isolation from each other, making us forget we’re in this together. Isolation and loneliness are already at epidemic levels among older people in England. It’s estimated that around two million people aged 75+ live alone and more than a million go more than a month without speaking to anybody at all.
Human beings evolved to feel safest in groups, and as a result, we experience isolation as a physical state of emergency. While we may not be able to connect face-to-face, it’s essential to try to remain as calm and connected as possible, and to think about how we can work together as a community to support and protect those most at risk of isolation and social distancing. Not just now, but in normal times too.
Ways you can help to overcome loneliness
Set an intention – make a positive move
Make a commitment to make a positive impact each day for yourself and those around you, even if it is something small. For example, you could leave a kind note for a neighbour who you know is living alone or call a relative who has spent the last few months working from home.
Reach out to your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours digitally by sending messages; remind them of a memory or let them know something you’re grateful to them for. A simple and kind text message can go a long way.
Help and Support others
Drop a little note under your neighbour’s or friend’s door and offer to help out with emergency supplies, dog walks or prescription collections if they’re still self-isolating. Make some extra food and drop a meal off on the doorstep of someone you know who is unwell or who lives alone.
Look after yourself
If you’re self-isolating, don’t forget to move your body each day. Follow an online yoga video or have a dance around the living room. Support your immune system by drinking plenty of water and loading up on fruit and veg.
The news and media can leave us feeling worried, so it’s important to try to stay calm to help us cope. You could follow a guided session if you’re new to meditation.
Make a call
When did you last have a long phone conversation with your family or friends? Take the chance to chat and support one another, even if you live far away.
Our relationships and interactions need to be meaningful and satisfying. To really tackle loneliness, we must be satisfied with our relationships and interactions, and quality is key. Simply talking or being with people is not an automatic protection against loneliness – living with others or being in regular contact with people where relationships aren’t that meaningful can make things worse.
This means that for some of us, constantly connecting with people over Skype, Whatsapp, Zoom or similar platforms will not always be the answer. Create the space to connect in a way that is meaningful to you (remembering this looks different for everyone) – and don’t feel bad about creating boundaries.
For information about how to tackle loneliness for yourself or support others with their feelings of loneliness visit….
The Marmalade Trust: https://marmaladetrust.org
Or call the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393 or text 86463
Don’t forget our Care for Care Homes campaign, Scouts are trying to reduce the loneliness and improve the wellbeing of people in care homes as we collectively carry out 10,000 acts of kindness.