How to Manage Loneliness and Isolation During the COVID-19 Lockdown
While staying home is the safest thing to do right now, it isn’t necessarily the easiest. Lockdown will be challenging for many people, especially those with underlying mental health conditions and anyone living alone. Human beings crave connection and loneliness can harm your physical health, quality of life and overall wellbeing. Here are some tips to help you manage loneliness and isolation during the current COVID-19 lockdown…
Create a New Routine
A rhythm or routine gives structure to your day. Decide when you want to wake-up, use an alarm and once it goes off make sure you get out of bed. Create a timetable for the week ahead and fill it with as many activities and tasks as you can think of, even if it’s just watching TV for an hour or two. Doing this will help you keep occupied and make your days feel more fulfilling.
Be Intentional About What You Consume Online
I would recommend avoiding social media and news websites as much as possible. Turn notifications off on your phone, check your messages and anything you feel is important at set times throughout the day. This will reduce your exposure to things being shared online that can create more worry.
Get your news once a day at a set time from one reliable source. You don’t need to know the latest statistics around the world at any given point. Consuming too much of this kind of information will mean it stays in the forefront of your mind for longer. It’s also important as a lot of unconfirmed misinformation is spread via platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.
When you do check the news, do so in an intentional way. Once you have found out what you wanted to know (e.g. timescales, extra advice and best practices) close the page. Most news websites will show extra articles related to what you’ve been reading. This can cause you to go into a bit of a spiral, ultimately creating more worry for yourself.
Even if it’s your favourite show, it’s a good idea to avoid binge watching. With little to do, it’s very tempting to sit on the sofa all day and just blast through series after series of shows on Netflix. Instead, space them out and make sure you’re getting up and having a break after every episode.
Get Some Fresh Air Every Day
You’re still allowed to go outside for exercise once a day, so make sure you get as much fresh air as possible (while avoiding crowded areas and observing social distancing rules}. Everyone needs a break from the indoors and it’s a great way of destressing and clearing your head. For more information, read How Nature Can Help Your Mental Health.
If getting out of the house is hard, try opening windows and doors as much as possible. If you don’t have a garden or outside space, just sitting on your front step and soaking up some vitamin D can make a big difference to how you feel.
Connect with Friends and Family
It’s probably never been more important to keep in contact with friends and family. While it’s very easy to simply leave a message on WhatsApp or Facebook, calling them through voice chat or video chat is more likely to result in a fulfilling conversation. Just try to avoid talking about the crisis too much.
Many of us have elderly or disabled relatives and friends that usually rely on someone visiting them for social contact. Try to keep this up over the phone and let them know when you’ll next be calling.
Try a New Hobby
Picking up a simple hobby, particularly one that incorporates mindfulness, will really benefit your mental health during lockdown. Things like colouring books, jigsaw puzzles, crochet and watercolour painting are very good for keeping you busy and calming you down.