Our need for social connection is at the heart of being human. But the coronavirus pandemic threatens those connections.
Across the UK, we’re being asked to consider working from home, big gatherings are being cancelled and the Health Secretary said on Sunday morning that the elderly could be quarantined for up to four months as a precautionary measure. Whilst these are key strategies to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the measures could further our sense of isolation from each other, making us forget we’re in this together.
Isolation and loneliness are already at epidemic levels among older people in England. It’s estimated that around two million people aged 75+ live alone and more than a million go more than a month without speaking to anybody at all.
Human beings evolved to feel safest in groups, and as a result, we experience isolation as a physical state of emergency. While we may not be able to connect face-to-face, it’s essential to try to remain as calm and connected as possible, and to think about how we can work together as a community to support and protect those most at risk of isolation and social distancing, not just now, but in normal times too.
We’ve put together some tips on how you can either help yourself if you’re self-isolating, or help others who are:
If you’re self-isolating…
1. Set an intention - make a commitment to make a positive impact each day for yourself and those around you, even if it is something small.
2. Look after yourself – don’t forget to move your body each day. Follow an online yoga video or have a dance around the living room. Support your immune system by drinking plenty of water and loading up on fruit and veg.
3. Nurture relationships - Reach out to your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours digitally by sending messages; remind them of a memory or let them know something you're grateful to them for.
4. Practice mindfulness – the news and media can leave us feeling worried, so it’s important to try to stay calm to help us cope. You could follow a guided session if you’re new to meditation.
5. Switch off from the news – it’s tempting to stay frequently tuned to the media. Listening to negative news stories can be disheartening. Try to limit your media time. Perhaps just tune in once a day and then switch off.
6. Make a call – when did you last have a long phone conversation with your family or friends? Take the chance to chat and support one another, even if you live far away.
7. Make the most of home time – if you are self-isolating, a stretch of time spent at home can feel overwhelming. Write a list of all of the activities you haven’t managed to do recently, like putting together that puzzle you got for Christmas, sorting through photos, practicing an instrument, looking for new recipes, or simply picking up a book you’ve been meaning to read. Even better, connect with a friend or family member through FaceTime and do an activity together!
8. Ask for help – if you’re struggling with isolation, remember to reach out and ask for help when you need it too. Mind have some brilliant advice if you’re feeling anxious or worried about Coronavirus https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/
9. Connect – whilst technology can’t replace that feeling of connecting face-to-face, there are ways of staying connected in isolation that can help. Use Facebook and Twitter or start a WhatsApp group with neighbours and friends to check in on everyone and find out how they’re doing.
To help those who are self-isolating…
1. Snail mail – we all love to receive post in the mail but it’s so rare these days (other than bills or flyers of course). Why not send a card or letter to someone you know who is self-isolating. It’ll be a welcome bit of joy on their doorstep.
2. Be neighbourly – drop a little note under your neighbour’s door with your number and an offer to help out with emergency supplies, dog walks, prescription collections etc. if they’re self isolating.
3. Food for thought – make some extra food and drop a meal off on the doorstep of someone you know is unwell or self-isolating.
This may be a time of self-isolation and social distancing, but it’s also clearer than ever how much we need to work together as a community to support and protect one another.
Let us know if you have any top tips to add to our list and stay connected with us through our social media pages.