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 great ways we can do this:
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. 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.
3. Support others
Drop a little note under your neighbour’s door with your number and an offer to help out with emergency supplies, dog walks or prescription collections if they’re self isolating.
4. Look after yourself
If you’re self-isolating, 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.
5. 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 like Headspace if you’re new to mediation.
6. Help others
Make some extra food and drop a meal off on the doorstep of someone you know is unwell.
7. 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.
8. Make the most of home time
If you’re 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, 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!
9. 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.
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.
This may be a time of self-isolation, but it’s clearer now 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.