In this blog we consider the impact that the pandemic may have had on our emotional state, plus ways we can ‘refill our cups’ to help ourselves and others feel better and more connected post-pandemic.
Wintertime can be tricky for us all, as we hibernate at home from the cold more and tend to have less in the diary than the summer months, leaving us more susceptible to feelings of loneliness. Add to that the harsh realities and social limitations of the Covid-19 pandemic and it’s no wonder we’re all feeling rather depleted. Some of us might also be feeling nervous in these early days of ‘getting back out there’. This is a completely understandable and normal feeling. We’ve been through a lot.
When we are denied our social needs, it can lead to consequences in terms of our mental, emotional and physical health. Even if we have not been alone (for example if we’ve been isolated for long periods of time with family, a partner or flatmates), it’s still very possible to experience loneliness. It’s important to acknowledge feelings of loneliness and accept it as a normal human emotion. We all feel lonely at times. We're biologically wired for social contact, and loneliness is our signal that we need more. Just as hunger is a signal that we need to eat. Other emotional reactions that we can expect to feel more as a result of the pandemic (specifically the longer periods of isolation) include feelings of anger, tiredness, irritability, or sadness.
Meanwhile outside, Spring has officially sprung! Nature is showing us its green shoots, its beautiful splashes of colour with daffodils, the majestic magnolias are blooming and new life is emerging in the farmer’s fields. There’s nothing better than taking a walk in springtime to lift our mood and feel connected with nature and the change in the seasons.
Springtime is a great time to think about what you need to bloom too. How can you ‘refill your cup’ and feel replenished? What do you need to do to feel better connected?
Here are some suggestions of ways to connect at home, in the community, at work and in school to help us digest what we’ve all been through, and transition to ‘getting out there’:
Invite a friend around for a cuppa in the garden whilst the sun is shining
Head out into nature - some people find it easier to walk and talk than having a sit down chat
Arrange to watch a film on TV or a Facebook event with a friend and call/text commentary to each other during it
Text or ring a friend or family member
Arrange a weekly video call with friends/family
Send a letter or a postcard to someone, it’s always so lovely to receive!
Join a virtual book club, film club, pub quiz
Share your experiences of loneliness on your blog and/or social media - help normalise feelings of loneliness - it’s a normal human emotion that we all experience from time to time.
In the community
Shop local - it can be a friendly place to say hello and see familiar faces regularly
Say hello and smile to passers-by - even if they are far away it can make a huge difference to someone’s day
Have a cuppa with a neighbour
Reach out to a local charity and volunteer your support
Reach out to someone you know that might be experiencing loneliness or isolation in your area
Start or join a Whatsapp group for your street. It’s a great way to get to know and connect with your neighbours.
Ask students what they know about loneliness and how they experience it
Explore when or why people of different ages might feel lonely
Draw a picture of what loneliness feels like
Discuss loneliness openly and positive - loneliness is a normal human emotion and stigma around it tends to develop as we get older
Write letters to people experiencing loneliness in the community
Discuss how you might help someone that is feeling lonely or isolated
Read a book together about loneliness. We love this selection.
Share your experiences of loneliness on your company blog and social media - help normalise feelings of loneliness and show acceptance in your company culture
Host a weekly social and ban work talk!
Encourage staff to reach out to HR if they are feeling lonely
Spend time building stronger relationships to get to know each other better
Be honest with a colleague you trust about times when you’ve experienced loneliness
If you’re sticking with home-working, meet up virtually for a coffee or lunch with a colleague, or arrange a in-person lunch with a local friend
Email your business contacts and clients to let them know what you're doing to combat loneliness and increase understanding.
If you’re feeling very cautious about getting out and about again, honour that feeling and take it slowly. If groups are overwhelming, stick to texting and making phone calls, taking a walk in nature or having an in-depth chat with one good friend. Focus on quality connections with fewer people.
If you’re feeling apprehensive about seeing friends again after such a long time it's worth remembering that the pandemic was a shared experience and the likelihood is that we’re all feeling a bit socially awkward from lack of practice in real life.
Be kind and patient with yourself and others. Make light of social awkwardness as we all share and learn through the next phase.
Marmalade Trust has a wealth of content around the subject of loneliness and we're adding new content all the time. As a starting point, check out our Beginners Guide To Loneliness.
We are here to offer support and advice. If you feel there's an aspect of loneliness that you're looking for more information or guidance about, pop it in the comments below or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org