Feeling lonely or disconnected is a natural reaction to the current coronavirus pandemic, and it’s important that you don’t blame yourself for feelings of loneliness, at this or any other time.
This page provides practical advice on how to help others or yourself if you are feeling lonely. If you feel unable to take these steps, you can also contact one of the helplines on our support page. You can read guidance on looking after your mental health and wellbeing during this time on gov.uk, along with the latest government advice on coronavirus.
Keep in touch with those around you
– Talk to friends and family – sometimes a friendly chat can make a big difference. We can all help each other to avoid or reduce loneliness, simply by taking the time to connect with each other.
– Alternatively, an email or a text can start a conversation. Is there someone you have lost contact with? This might be the time to get back in touch.
– If you’re worried about what to talk about, think about mutual interests and arrange to read the same book or watch the same TV show, so you can discuss it. Online games and quizzes are another great way to keep in touch.
– If you can’t reach out to friends or family, or you want to talk to someone in a similar situation, the organisations on our support page are there to help you. If you are experiencing stress, feelings of anxiety or low mood, you can use the NHS mental health and wellbeing for self-assessment, audio guides and practical tools. Every Mind Matters also provides simple tips and advice.
– If you are struggling with loneliness whilst self-isolating, the NHS Volunteer Responder service can help arrange a friendly call with a volunteer.
Join an online group
Being part of a group that already has a shared interest with you is a great way to make connections, even if you’re not in the same room. Think about the activities you do that are part of who you are and look for groups centred on these activities. This could be gaming, singing, cooking, sport – anything that you enjoy doing and talking about with other people.
– Ask friends or colleagues if they are involved in any groups – it can be helpful to know one other person who can tell you where to start and introduce you to the group.
– If you are part of a club or group, be welcoming to newcomers and seek to involve others in the conversation. Remember that it is hard to be new and to reach out if you are feeling unsure of yourself, so make it as easy as possible for people to feel welcomed.
– Many clubs, from choirs to writing groups and exercise classes, offer a range of activities and events online. Search for the organisations and activities you might be interested in and share links with friends and family too, who might also want to get involved.
– Check with your local library or sports centre to see what activities they are offering online.
– You might want to talk with people who are in a similar situation to you. Our support page lists online forums, which we know can be a lifeline for some.
Help someone else feel connected
There are lots of ways to offer support to others who may be in a similar position to you, or whose circumstances have become a lot harder.
– Think about people you know who might be finding this time particularly difficult – those who are self-isolating for long periods or who have other challenges in their lives – and make an effort to connect with them. You could suggest making the call a regular part of your weekly routine and plan the next one.
– Remember that feeling lonely for a long time can make it harder for people to make new connections. It may be difficult for people experiencing loneliness to respond to your friendly contact at first, so be patient and kind.
– If you pass neighbours on the street, take the time to smile, wave and chat from a safe distance. You might want to offer to swap phone numbers or set up a street WhatsApp group to stay in contact. In some areas the NextDoor app can be used to connect with neighbours.
– Sending a text, email or card is a great way to reach out to a family member or friend who might be feeling lonely. It can really make someone’s day.
– Volunteering is a great way to meet people and connect. Read guidance on volunteering safely and explore links to online platforms with volunteering opportunities. NHS Volunteer Responders and Age UK Telephone Befrienders are a good place to start, but for more information, visit the organisations listed on our get support page.