It’s hard to talk about the effects of lockdown without resorting to tired clichés anymore. That doesn’t mean we should stop talking about them. As lockdown continues, more and more people feel lonely, so it’s still important to take steps to protect mental health.
We all get lonely from time to time, for many different reasons – and we all experience loneliness differently. You might be someone that retreats into themself, or you might seek out any interaction good, or bad. It’s understandable to fall into these habits, but there some more effective ways to manage loneliness. Here are four great coping strategies to try out.
1. Awaken your senses
An often-overlooked factor to avoiding loneliness is how easily you can experience the world around you. If you have trouble with your vision, hearing or another sense you might not experience the same depth in your surroundings as other people, leaving you feeling isolated.
If you’re visually impaired you might have had to relearn how to do lots of everyday activities like cooking, cleaning and walking. This can have a profound impact on your mental health.
For those with a hearing impairment, having conversations and truly connecting with people can be extremely challenging. Even if you can lipread, the use of masks due to COVID-19 has made communication even more difficult for those with poor hearing. If you’re a lipreader and feeling lonely, you could ask your household to get hold of a transparent mask to make communicating a bit easier.
2. Get on your hobby horse
Lots of time at home can mean lots of time to follow your passions. Cross stitch, DIY, baking, pottery, running – the list is endless. You could try out a hobby targeted specifically at improving mental health like meditation, colouring in (it’s not just for children), or bullet journaling.
A hobby can provide a welcome distraction, improve your concentration, and even connect you with new people when lockdown ends. Hobbies even provide eustress (the opposite of distress) – the fun type of stress that creates feelings of exhilaration, accomplishments and adrenaline.
3. Set small milestones
One aspect of lockdown many have really struggled with is being unable to plan for the future. It’s psychologically easier to do something hard if you know when it’ll be over. Set yourself small milestones that you can achieve independently, no matter what the restrictions are. This could be anything – it might be doing 10,000 steps every day for a week, reading a book a week for 4 weeks, or learning how to have a basic conversation in Spanish.
Go for small, manageable tasks that’ll help you feel a sense of achievement. The boost in your self-esteem could help ease any feelings of loneliness, and increase your confidence – as well as providing a welcome distraction.
With the short and cold days over the last few months, you might have spent less time connecting with nature. But the days get warmer and longer as we get into March, and the environment changes. Birds, bees, blossom and flowers all become more present. How you connect with nature might feel different to gloomy November days.
Spending time in nature can help you be present in the moment, and put any overwhelming feelings into perspective. You can try out new activities in nature too – like foraging for herbs and leaves to use in the kitchen, hiking or bird watching.