As talk of tightening the current lockdown is reported in the media, the topic of loneliness and how it intersects with mental health seems more relevant than ever. Shortly before Christmas, before the tier 4 announcement, a survey commissioned by the British Psychological Society found that 41% of respondents were worried about people close to them feeling isolated. At the beginning of the pandemic, health websites NHS and Red Cross created resources pages advising people on how to cope with the lockdown and its resulting isolation. However, this isn’t a new issue. In 2018 Theresa May launched a UK government initiative aimed at reducing isolation and loneliness after multiple reports found that loneliness had reached life-threatening, epidemic levels.
While it’s bitterly cold and grey, there’s fewer triggers to encourage socialising, and as we batten down the hatches once more to avoid surging covid infections it’s becoming increasingly easy to slip across the threshold from ‘alone’ to ‘lonely’. The rules banning inter-household mixing and socialising with more than one person outdoors will push even more people into chronic loneliness. More than ever we are being strongly encouraged to avoid any in-person mixing.
Previous research by the ONS found that younger people were disproportionately more affected by feelings of loneliness and isolation throughout the first lockdown. With schools and universities now closed for at least a month, their avenues for socialisation are being reduced even further.
Feelings of loneliness can strike at any time, even if you’ve been managing up until now. The cumulative effect of months of restrictions feeding into another lockdown and the bleakness of the depths of winter may be enough that your usual coping skills are no longer sufficient.
If you’re noticing your mood dipping or levels of anxiety rising and feel as though the support you can access from friends, family or educational institutions isn’t enough, then finding some outside support may be beneficial. Encouraging your older relatives to get connected with smartphones or zoom can help them stay connected.
Sessions of hypnotherapy can deliver a combination of stress and anxiety reduction as well as helping you to connect to your inner resources and find some stable inner ground. Working with a hypnotherapist can help you learn new skills and techniques to better manage the stresses and strains of your current situation as well as providing a safe and non-judgemental space to talk about the things that are concerning you.
The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) has a register of over 2,000 therapists from all over the UK, many of whom are working online so they are accessible no matter where you are
You can find a therapist who is best suited to help you by using the therapist finder on the website.