We all feel lonely sometimes, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has made it harder to be with others – particularly if you are shielding and staying at home.

You might miss family and friends, colleagues, or other everyday connections you had. It is natural to feel like this now, and you should not blame yourself for these feelings.

It is important to remember these changes will not be forever and that social distancing does not stop us from connecting in other ways.

If you are feeling lonely at the moment, the following tips can help. Different things work for different people, so try to find what works for you, and seek further support if you feel you need it.

 

Explore more ways of spending time together

If you are used to doing activities with others, try to find ways you can move them online instead. Lots of people are now doing things like watching films, playing scrabble, or having dinner together online.

You could join one of the many online clubs and virtual social events taking place and invite your friends and family to take part too.

Spending time in green space can help your wellbeing. If you are not shielding and staying at home, you can also meet someone outside for a walk or a chat, just make sure to stay at least 2 metres apart.

 

Be more social and check in regularly

Checking in with others and being more sociable on a regular basis can be a good thing to do, as creating a routine of contacting others may make it easier to reach out at the time you feel lonely.

You could try messaging old friends or colleagues on social media or text someone you have not spoken to for a while. Or set up a group chat on WhatsApp or Messenger if you prefer to talk with a few people at the same time.

Most of us love hearing from people we have lost contact with – and that’s especially true now. It may also encourage them to contact you more, or you could ask if it’s OK to have a regular check-in.

 

Do more things you enjoy

Filling your time doing more things you like can stop you from focusing on feelings of loneliness.

Entertaining radio shows or podcasts are a good way to occupy your mind and keep you company. You can also listen to audiobooks and join an online book club to talk about it with others. Lots of comedy clubs are streaming gigs online, so search for something that will make you laugh.

Exercise can lift your mood and help take your mind off things, so try walking, running or make an indoor class part of your daily routine. If you are exercising outside, make sure to keep 2 metres apart from others, in line with social distancing advice.

 

Stay busy by learning something new

Now is a good time to pursue a hobby or something you have always wanted to be able to do – and it can be a good way to spend time with others.

If you enjoy learning with others, you could join an online class, for arts and crafts, cookery, DIY or gardening. Become a guitar hero, learn piano or join a free online choir, like the Great British Home Chorus. If you want to do something that gets you thinking about other things, learn a language, as there are many online courses, from beginners through to advanced classes.

 

Volunteer to help others

Another way to stay busy is by helping others, which can also boost your mental wellbeing.

You can volunteer during the coronavirus outbreak from home or in your community but follow the government guidelines if you are going out. If you would prefer to help others from home, you could volunteer to be a phone buddy to someone. Some charities run groups, like Age UK’s Call in Time, that put volunteers in touch with people to call for a chat and see how they’re doing.

You may even make new friends while volunteering.

 

Join an online community

If you’re struggling with feelings of loneliness or other mental health issues, remember you’re not alone.

Join an online community or peer-support group so you can talk to others about how you feel. There are also many helplines and support groups that offer expert advice and cover a range of mental health issues.

If you cannot wait to see a doctor and feel unable to cope or keep yourself safe, there is urgent support available.

 

Further support and advice

Many organisations offer advice and support on coping with loneliness, including local and national forums and phone support services. Here are just a few. Mind offers advice and support services to help people manage their mental health and wellbeing including tips for coping with loneliness plus advice on coronavirus and wellbeing. The Let’s talk Loneliness website offers advice and stories on coping with loneliness. There is also helpful advice on managing feelings of loneliness on the Campaign to End Loneliness website.

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