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12th May, 2020

Seven tips for fighting isolation loneliness

In many countries across the world, people have been told not to leave their homes unless it's absolutely necessary, in a bid to stall the spread of Covid-19. While these measures are important, and will ultimately help to keep us safe, in the short term they leave many people open to feeling isolated and lonely - particularly if they live alone.

In the older population in particular, loneliness is already an issue. In fact, Age UK estimates that more than one million people over the age of 75 can go for more than a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member - and that’s without a global pandemic to deal with.

With our current situation, we’ve put together seven tips that can help you to combat loneliness if you’re living alone during the lockdown.

Speak to family and friends

The digital-focused world that we all live in nowadays means that there’s never been more ways to communicate with friends and family, so make sure that you’re taking the time to speak to people frequently. Whether it’s a phone call or a simple text, it can make all the difference to have a conversation with a loved one. You could even write some letters, perhaps to people you haven’t spoken to in a while, or to your children or grandchildren, if you’re able to safely get to your nearest postbox.

Make video calls

On the topic of staying in touch with loved ones, video calls are an excellent way to not only speak to people, but to get to see their faces too. Which can be particularly lovely if you want to see the grandkids! You can also look to plan activities to do during the call, like family quiz nights or a virtual book club with friends. There are lots of ways to make video calls, whether on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Age UK has put together a comprehensive list of video calling apps and tools you can use, as well as how you can use them. You can find it here.

Stay active

Not only can exercise help to lift your mood, but it can also reduce stress, and help to make sure your body gets enough endorphins - or feel good chemicals. Fortunately, plenty of websites and experts are releasing lots of digital content during the lockdown so that you can get some exercise in at home. Whether you want to try yoga, get grooving with a dance class, or simply get the blood pumping with a seated strength workout, there are plenty of resources out there for you to follow. Try the simple indoor workouts available on the NHS One You website, or head to YouTube to find specific things like workouts by The Body Coach, Joe Wicks, or introductory yoga sessions by Yoga with Adriene. Plus, they’re all free!

Start a journal

Journals or diaries are a great way to organise your thoughts, and focus on the positives from your day. It’s up to you to choose which format you want to take; whether you want to document what you’ve done in a day, how you’re feeling, or simply focus on three things that you’re grateful for each evening. Some people even just like to jot down whatever comes to mind each day to help them organise their thoughts. Not only does it set a habit, but it can also help you to remember the highlights and see the strengths. Take a look at our recent blog on keeping a gratitude journal for some inspiration.

Keep to a routine

While you can’t do all of your usual activities at the moment, and this can be frustrating, it’s a good idea to still set yourself a routine to follow. Not only does this help to give your day a framework, but it can also help to stop you getting bored or too lost in your own thoughts. Try to wake up and go to bed around the same time as usual, and make sure that you’re taking the time to eat good meals, shower, and dress every day - even though you may not be leaving the house. Don’t forget to make time to relax and to fit in hobbies, like doing a weekly online yoga class, starting a knitting project, or reading a new book.

Make plans

Fortunately, with everyone playing their part and taking the lockdown seriously, we will overcome this pandemic - and we’ll be able to go back to making lovely plans and spending time doing the things we enjoy soon. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with starting to think about all of the things that you’re looking forward to now. Start making plans for the future; whether it’s a new country you want to visit, a landmark you’ve always dreamed of seeing, or an experience you want to share with a loved one. Not only will doing the research and planning now help to fill some time, but it will also give you something to look forward to. It’s never a bad thing to start dreaming about your next adventure!

Ask for help

Finally, it’s important to recognise when you are feeling lonely, and to take action to try and relieve it. If you’re struggling, then there are lots of volunteers and services that you can reach out to for assistance. We’ve included some of their details below:

The Silver Line - 0800 470 80 90

Independent Age - 0800 319 6789

Mind - 0300 123 3393

There are also a number of local volunteer initiatives that have been established around the country to support isolated people during the crisis. Do some research into what’s available in your area, and don’t be afraid to reach out.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.