Bath Mind - supporting loneliness throughout BANES
In this time of uncertainty, recognising the many different causes and effects of loneliness has never been more important.
We often picture ‘lonely’ as affecting those who are alone, but this is not always the case. Loneliness and isolation can be experienced by anyone, whether we are alone or part of a wider family or network. For some, being alone can be a positive situation, in which they do not feel lonely, they may enjoy spending time alone by choice. Those who are part of a family or group may feel disconnected and isolated, despite not being ‘alone’ they may experience loneliness.
Loneliness can affect our mood and wellbeing on many levels. Meaningful connections with others are beneficial to our mental health and wellbeing. A chat with a friend, or close relative can lift our mood if we are feeling low. A walk in the park, when someone may say ‘hello’; or a chat as we bump into a friend, or check-out at the supermarket; can often brighten our day. It is these little moments which combine to reduce feelings of isolation and help keep us mentally well.
As a result of COVID-19, we are now living more separately than ever.
Many living alone, who previously relied on a little impromptu social contact when out, may be feeling lonely. Local groups have been cancelled, places of worship have been closed and many people who have been shielding are not comfortable returning to these yet as things start to re-open.
For some, being in a relationship or a family can be a lonely place. Some may feel isolated or anxious, and it may be difficult for them to find someone to turn to for support. It may be difficult to maintain connections outside of their home unit; they may be feeling isolated and disconnected.
Those working may have been changed to working at home during lockdown - and many will continue to do so ongoing. They may miss seeing a friendly face, having a chat whilst they make a coffee, or meeting a friend for lunch. Those whose work has been affected by Covid-19 may have lost the financial and emotional support which their work provided, finding themselves with a lot of time to think, and fewer positive interactions to lift their mood.
Others may have been working throughout Covid-19, yet had to return to an empty home or alternative accommodation. Some may be separated from their family and children, feeling isolated and anxious at their change in circumstances. They may experience low mood and loneliness when at home alone, despite a busy work schedule with many work connections.
As we emerge from lockdown, many of us may feel anxious. Venturing out after many weeks being at home can be a daunting prospect. Uncertainty over the future and a ‘new normal’ are things we are having to live with, for the first time in our lives. Such changes and new experiences can make it hard for us to feel like connecting with others; we may withdraw and cut ourselves off from our support network.
“I feel terrified about going back to work and being around people, I do want to go in but I am genuinely scared”
At times the pandemic has brought people closer together, with wonderful volunteers coming forward across our community to support those in need. The acts of human kindness have provided many with an essential lifeline, which they have depended on. As those shielding can now venture out, they may be worried that they will lose these connections.
‘I have a girl from the village doing all my shopping, I am forever in her debt, she has become a friend and I will miss her once this is all over".
During Covid-19, Bath Mind’s groups and activities have been moved online to ensure we can provide continuedsupport. Our new evening support service - ‘Breathing Space’ has adapted to a telephone service, and has been supporting many in our community experiencing loneliness.
As a result of the increasing need for support in these challenging times, Bath Mind’s new Befriending Service is now here to support anyone feeling lonely, anxious or isolated, throughout our community.
Bath Mind is here to support your mental health and wellbeing, whatever your need.