Rehab 4 Addiction

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it several problems besides illness and death.

One of these problems is a huge surge in people needing treatment for mental health and addiction. We have seen, for example, an increase in people using opiates during the pandemic.

Another problem caused by the pandemic is loneliness. In the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics, around 7.4 million people said that their wellbeing was affected through feeling lonely during the first lockdown. [1]

Why is it that Covid-19 has caused people to feel more lonely? And what can we do to feel less lonely in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic?

When we talk about causes of loneliness, the culprits are plain to see: lockdowns, self-isolation and a lack of human contact.

However, people are fighting back against loneliness. Technology adapts, and we have seen an explosion of useful apps and websites that promise to keep us connected even in these challenging times.

Stay in touch with people virtually

When you are in Covid-19 self-isolation, you cannot see any of your loved ones in person. You can, however, use technology to speak to people. There are a range of tools you can use to chat to people without being in the same room as them.

  • One of the best ways to chat to friends and family is via a phone call. Hearing the sound of someone’s voice feels a bit more human than a text message.
  • Even better, if possible, is a video call. This allows you to see and hear the person you are talking to. Skype and Zoom both offer good video call services.
  • Another way of chatting to friends is via messaging apps, such as Whatsapp. This works well for groups of friends.

One potential issue with keeping in touch virtually is that we already spend a lot of time looking at screens. Working from home normally requires a computer, laptop or tablet, and a lot of people are now working from home due to coronavirus. In fact, 46.6% of people in employment in the UK are doing some work at home, according to the latest government statistics. [2]

One way to get round this is simply to call someone, rather than doing a video call. This gives your eyes a rest from staring at screens.

Organise virtual meet-ups

For people who are used to having a busy calendar, the lack of planned social events during Covid-19 isolation can feel quite alien. Many people benefit from having a routine, and this holds true for social engagements too.

So what can you do to replace a packed social calendar now that you can’t see anyone face-to-face?

  • One idea is to attend online classes with friends. Cookery classes, creative writing courses, exercise classes – all of these can provide a relaxed environment for socialising from the comfort of your own home.
  • If you are in a relationship, and you live somewhere different to your significant other, try arranging some online dates. It may not be the same as seeing them in person, but it’s important to keep in regular contact with those you love.
  • Gaming online is another popular way to stay in touch with friends. Any game will do: the important thing is that you are engaging in a shared activity, and can chat at the same time.
  • Arranging to watch a movie together is another fun thing to do. Many of the large streaming sites now offer features which allow you to do this (e.g. Netflix Party).

Hopefully this should give you some ideas if you are the sort of person who likes having a busy social calendar.

Create an online workspace

Motivation is another huge problem for people who have suddenly been forced to start working from home. If you are accustomed to working in an office, working from home can seem boring and unsociable, and you may be struggling to be productive.

  • If you’d like to replicate the feel of an office whilst in Covid-19 self-isolation, try setting up a conference call. This will allow you to see and chat to your colleagues.
  • You can also use breakout rooms for more casual, non-work-related chats.

An online workspace can help with productivity as well as loneliness.

Get therapy and support online

There are lots of helpful charities who offer online support services, as well as therapists who can be reached virtually. Just because you are in Covid-19 isolation, doesn’t mean you can’t get help.

  • The NHS offer online self-help courses, which use cognitive behavioural techniques. They typically take a few weeks or months to complete.
  • The NHS also offer some live therapy via messaging or video call. You’ll need to take an assessment with your GP in order to access these NHS services.
  • Private online therapy is another option. Make sure that online therapists are accredited with either the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy or the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).
  • Support forums can also be helpful, if you’d like to chat to peers who may be going through a similar problem. Popular forums include Bipolar UK eCommunity, Beat Message Boards, Side by Side and Big White Wall.

The importance of routine

Whilst all of the tools above will help to ease your Covid-19-induced loneliness, there is no denying that you will be spending more time alone if you are isolating.

One important thing to bear in mind to mitigate this loneliness is that routine is your friend. A routine which involves lots of exercise, activities for your brain and chatting with friends and family will help you to deal with isolation.

What sorts of thing can you include as part of daily routine?

  • Waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day. This will help you get a good night’s sleep.
  • Read a book, write a story or paint a picture.
  • Chat to friends and family.
  • Having nutritious meals with lots of fruit and vegetables.
  • Get lots of exercise.
  • Looking after your appearance. Some people find it helpful for their mental health to look good even if they aren’t seeing anyone. Don’t go overboard – but if you want to put on a nice shirt or dress, go for it!

Habits and routines help keep us sane in the face of large amounts of free time.

Final thoughts

So there it is: our five top tops for avoiding loneliness during Covid-19 isolation. We can’t guarantee that you won’t feel lonely if you follow this advice, but at the very least, you may feel a little happier and healthier.

References

[1] Coronavirus and loneliness, Great Britain: 3 April to 3 May 2020. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/bulletins/coronavirusandlonelinessgreatbritain/3aprilto3may2020

[2] Coronavirus and homeworking in the UK: April 2020, https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/coronavirusandhomeworkingintheuk/april2020

boris

Boris is our editor-in-chief at Rehab 4 Addiction. Boris is an addiction expert with more than 20 years in the field.  His expertise covers a broad of topics relating to addiction, rehab and recovery. Boris is an addiction therapist and assists in the alcohol detox and rehab process. Boris has been featured on a variety of websites, including the BBC, Verywell Mind and Healthline.