With so many of us struggling with loneliness during the pandemic, it can be easy to assume that these feelings will disappear as we edge out of lockdown and resume our ‘normal’ lives. But it might not be so simple, especially if we’ve spent long swathes of time away from loved ones, colleagues, and in big social settings.
As social restrictions ease, below are some top tips from Annelies Hart, Club Manager at Audley Villages on how to alleviate feelings of loneliness if they persist post-pandemic.
- Ease back into social life
With pubs, restaurants, shops, and some entertainment venues back open, it can feel overwhelming to jump back into a busy social calendar. If you’ve felt lonely during the pandemic, then this might not necessarily disappear the second that you can socialise in-person. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then consider easing back into your social life bit by bit. Perhaps suggest having dinner at a friend’s house, where you can talk more openly about how you’ve been feeling and any reservations about being in big social groups. Or if you’ve been working from home but your office has reopened then consider going in a couple of days a week, if you’re able to, and align it with colleagues who you know will give you a boost.
- Try something new
If you’ve experienced loneliness like never before during the pandemic, then now could be a good time for a fresh start by reconsidering the people and connections that you have in your life. Joining a group like team sports, acting groups, or lessons for a hobby you’ve always liked, such as painting, singing, or gardening, can be a great way of connecting with like-minded people without the pressure of socialising. If you’re not comfortable or not able to do so in-person just yet, then lots of groups offer classes online where you can still be in touch with others.
- Reach out to loved ones
Even if you have lots of friends or people around you, it’s still possible to feel lonely and it’s no wonder that for so many of us, isolation during the lockdowns has taken its toll on mental health. While people will have a tendency to withdraw when they’re struggling with loneliness, it’s important to reach out to friends or family and tell them how you feel. It might just be a case of re-establishing a closeness with someone that’s faded during the pandemic and finding support from loved ones once they know that you’re struggling.
- Reclaim your alone time
If you’ve been spending a lot of time alone, even now things are opening up you might have negative associations with your alone time. Rather than filling up your days with social plans and activities to avoid feeling lonely, try and retain some time for yourself and address it head on. Think about what makes you happy. If nature gives you a boost, then a plan a trip alone in an area of beauty. Or if exercising gives you a boost, then try going to an exercise class – you’re still around others, but you’ll be looking after yourself.
- Talk to a helpline
There are lots of resources out there to support you if you’re struggling with loneliness and don’t feel that you have anyone to confide in. Various free online communities or peer groups can be a great place to speak to others in the same boat as you. Look at charities like Mind which have resources to support anyone struggling with their mental health.