Loneliness is a feeling of separation from others, something that everyone experiences at certain times. Leaving home, moving city, going to college, getting a new job – these are all times in our lives when we might feel lonely. In these situations, it’s normal to feel a sense of loss or distance from your surroundings. Right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, we face an unprecedented moment of change in which we are being actively encouraged to stay away from each other. This can be difficult for many of us, particularly those who are already vulnerable. According to one survey taken before COVID-19, 400,000 people in Ireland reported feeling lonely. This goes to show how important it is to reach out to others and build support in our communities during this time.
Our mental health
People are being asked to social distance from others to combat the spread of coronavirus. This is of course a necessary step to take in the wake of such a pressing public health emergency, but in these uncertain times, it’s important to be conscious of how these sudden changes can impact people. Something as simple as a break in routine can have a negative impact on some people. Many people’s mental health is supported by things such as social occasions, daily errands or activities to give shape to their day. Much like moving to a new area, social distancing means reinventing our everyday lives and sacrificing close contact with our nearest and dearest.
Supporting each other
Staying at home and social distancing over weeks and months can allow negative thoughts to build up for some people. It’s easy to forget to check in on others when you’re under stress yourself, particularly in times like these, when everyone is quite confused and unsure what to do. Issues with money and personal pressures can seem overwhelming. But even the simplest interactions can go a long way for someone suffering on their own. Call your relatives and see how they’re doing, volunteer to do odd jobs for the elderly, organise to go on walks or runs with others in the area, start a book club, whatever might work. I know that in my area, many socially distanced activities such as jogging and dog walking have become popular.
Looking after yourself
Of course, if you’re feeling down yourself, don’t be afraid to reach out and talk about it. There are many support services that are now running over the phone or through texts. If you feel you need to talk to someone, there are services available to help. Check out the support services listed below if you’d like someone to talk to. Remember, we are stronger together than we are apart. It’s easier on us all if we share the burden and help each other out!
It’s important to remember that the Coronavirus is not here to stay. Our communities will long outlive this episode of disruption. But we must remember our responsibilities to each other. Whether that’s checking up over the phone, video calls with friends or offering a helping hand to neighbours. We need to change the conversation surrounding the recent public health emergency – less about social distancing and more about community consciousness. Just the same as any disease, the battle against loneliness is a group effort!
If you need to talk to talk to some, there are supports available: