By Paul Abraham of www.headingonwards.com
Sticking to the government guidelines regarding self-isolation and social distancing is paramount, however staying at home with limited or no human contact can have a significant impact on our mental well-being especially the feeling of loneliness.
It was reported in 2018 by the Office of National Statistics that there were 5% of adults in England who reported feeling lonely “often” or “always” and that number was increasing each year, so the current situation will show an even bigger percentage of people trying to cope with feeling lonely and isolated during this “lockdown”
Social-isolation stops our day-to-day interactions with fellow human beings, such as going to the newsagent, shopping, meeting friends for a coffee or going for a gym session.
Many people rely on such connections to maintain good mental health as it’s both stimulating and something to look forward to.
So how can we cope during this testing period in our lives?
Staying in contact either by social media or telephone is important as it’s a connection with people going through the same frustrating scenario. Making or receiving a phone call from someone you’ve not spoken to for a while provides a perfect opportunity for a good “catch-up” and the chance to hear the latest gossip!
If you’re on Facebook or Instagram then you can make contact with friends and relatives through that and could even form your own groups of like-minded people to specifically discuss hobbies, music or your favourite television programme or sports team.
Keeping physical healthy can help boost your mood and ease loneliness too, so it is important to eat as well as you can and do some exercise however gentle it may be.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a heart-pounding, gut busting routine it can be just a very easy stretching routine or includes some Yoga or Pilates techniques, please make sure before you start any exercise programme to consult your GP or health professional to make sure it’s safe for you to start exercising.
After you have done your training routine you could then make a healthy meal or eat some fruit.
Eating your meal or fruit can be made even more uplifting if you do it in a mindfulness way, where you take time to smell, feel and taste each portion, by fully experiencing each portion you will enjoy it more and also help your digestive system by taking your time to taste, chew and swallow each mouthful.
Consider re-connecting with a favourite hobby or pastime that you’ve neglected recently.
It could be in the form of art, trying to learn a musical instrument or language or just getting the opportunity to read those books you’ve bought from the charity shops but have never got round to sitting down and reading. Now’s your chance!
Loneliness is a terrible feeling when things are “normal” but in this never before experienced situation it makes things even harder and lonelier.
If you are struggling then please check out local community groups or charities for advice.
Remember, seeking help isn’t a show of weakness; it’s a show of strength as you’ve recognised you need some “outside” help or advice.
We will all need a helping hand at some point during this surreal period in our lives.
Paul Abraham lives in Bramley. Read more of his articles for West Leeds Dispatch here.