The Mental Health Foundation recently released the results of its Longitudinal Study which revealed almost a quarter – 24% – of UK adults surveyed are experiencing loneliness due to having to social distance as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and that feelings of loneliness have more than doubled over the course of lockdown.
In April the UK government launched a public health campaign – #Let’sTalkLoneliness – to help combat loneliness and social isolation, encouraging people to speak more openly about loneliness. If you, like many, are working from home, and most likely will be for the foreseeable future, below are some tips to help fend off loneliness.
Keep in touch with colleagues, as well as friends as family through video chat where possible. If you are able to regularly touch base with colleagues it can help in a sense of camaraderie, where you can chat over any highs and lows of working away from your usual environment, and talk over any difficulties you may be experiencing whilst working in isolation, with colleagues who may be experiencing similar feelings. It can help in not feeling so alone and in creating a sense of positive reinforcement, which can be lost outside of your usual work environment. Let your colleagues know that they are doing a good job, whether via email or in a video meeting. Feeling a sense of appreciation for the work you are doing can have a big and positive impact on your mental health. And do not be afraid to reach out. If you are experiencing difficulties with a piece of work, email a colleague or two to see if they are available for a brief video meeting, where you can bounce ideas off of each other, something which you are much more likely to do if you are in a communal working space, and gain another perspective.
If you are working from home in isolation, it can help to look into joining an online group, anything from culture clubs to exercise classes, games nights and choirs. Having a group activity to look forward to in either your lunch break or after work can help motivate you throughout the day. During your lunch break or directly after finishing work can also be a good time to go outdoors for a walk or other form of exercise. Whilst the government advice is to have as limited contact as possible with people from outside your household, seeing other people out and about can help reduce feelings of loneliness.
If your job role allows, embrace the flexibility. Without your morning commute, for example, you may find it easier to begin your workday earlier, or a little later if you find it beneficial to organise a non-work related video catch up with a friend or colleague first thing in the morning over a cup of coffee.
Allow for lows. It is a very unusual time, and whilst some aspects of normal daily life are gradually beginning to reemerge, the effects of this pandemic will be around for many months to come. It is okay to experience unsettling feelings, whether they be frustration or worry. Take time to recognise how you are feeling and how these feelings might be impacting you during this time. You are not alone in is these feelings. Do not bottle them up. Speak openly with people you trust.
Further reading and resources
Let’s Talk Loneliness – https://letstalkloneliness.co.uk
Every Mind Matters – https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/
We are Here For You https://www.mind.org.uk/coronavirus-we-are-here-for-you/
Mental Health Helplines – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/