Social Isolation and Loneliness: Where to Turn
Posted: Tue, 30 Mar 2021 12:34
Prior to the pandemic, loneliness and social isolation have been recognised as important issues facing our society, with around 7% adults reporting feeling lonely all the time. We know that the UK lockdowns and reduced social contact have significantly exacerbated the problem, with loneliness rising to 18% among UK adults.
Both isolation and loneliness can have a detrimental effect on physical and mental health and wellbeing, increasing blood pressure, the risk of heart disease, growing risk of depression and dementia and negative lifestyle choices such as substance misuse and increased inactivity. Whilst loneliness and isolation differ from person to person, there are several ways to take action to alleviate loneliness.
The physical benefits of activity and exercise are well documented, however there are significant comparable psychological benefits. Participating in 30 minutes of physical activity – this could be a walk, organised sport, housework, or gardening – has been proven to boost mood, improve sleep and support cognitive function. We know that engagement in new activities may reduce the risk of dementia and goal setting, progress and friendly environments can improve self-esteem and social connectivity and reduce feelings of loneliness.
We have put together some of our top tips for combating loneliness this Spring:
- Spend more time with family – utilise opportunities within the pandemic for quality interactions in line with social distancing measures.
- Maintain social connection through technology – Supporting family members to overcome technology barriers, online video chats and regular scheduled conversations with family members, friends, or within your community.
- Ensure basic needs are met – food, medication, etc.
- Structure your days – Embed or develop physical activity routines, mindfulness practices, music programmes, regular television programmes can be useful
- Step Outdoors – Sunlight exposure and the ability to see others while maintaining social distancing can be beneficial to health
- Join an online group
- Try to get physically active to reap the benefits an active lifestyle can bring
- Seek support if you need it: this may be from a friend, family member, health professional, counsellor, or some of the following groups: Now We're Talking for Healthy Minds, Samaritans, Shout, The Silver Line, Re-engage, Age UK.
Is social isolation and/or loneliness a concern within your community? The Our Community Can project aims to support people across Herefordshire and Worcestershire, particularly those living in rural communities to develop active and create opportunities to bring people together to help reduce social isolation and loneliness. For more information please visit: https://www.activehw.co.uk/our-community-can or contact Laura on email@example.com.