From 9th May until the 15th May it is World Mental Health week and it is a reminder that the world is a better place when we are able to feel happy in ourselves. The theme this year is Loneliness and this is something that we will all go through at some stage in our lives. This has made us think about how important it is to tackle loneliness in our lives especially during lockdown.
Loneliness is not simply about being alone; some people are happy on their own. It is not how many people you know or how often you see them, or a bad day when you do not feel connected. What matters is to have strong connections. Those who are not lonely do tend to be happier, healthier, and more productive. If we do not keep connected, we may feel isolated, misunderstood, sleep disturbance, depressed and very lonely. It can take a physical toll on us. But simply keeping connected and having an active lifestyle; this helps keep our minds and body well.
Studies have shown if you are lonely you are more likely to cut back on keeping in touch with your family or friends or stop your activities in your daily life.
Do Not do that!
Stay in the game. Keep healthy and positive!
During the Pandemic we had to make the most of life. A big change for us all was digital activities which kept us all connected and had a positive outcome for our wellbeing. Daily chats with colleagues, friends and family, mindfulness sessions and yoga had a huge impact on our life when we could not visit family or friends.
Members and staff also enjoyed Music, Dance, Cooking classes, Bingo, Arts/Crafts, Creative Writing, Health & Wellbeing and a Woman’s and Men’s group. Although we are all getting out and about again, we still keep connected through digital platforms as it has proved invaluable.
Members and staff felt less lonely when meeting up for walks and talks. Exercise also helped especially setting up new outdoor circuit training, football and walking football. One of our favourite stories was during the Pandemic we started up a football group in the local park next to the hospital. Nurses and families brought patients down to watch the football regularly with their flasks of tea and goodies. The patients enjoyed watching the game, talking to our members and staff. Getting out the hospital helped reduce loneliness, change of scenery, getting out in the fresh air and members felt great as they were giving to others who were not feeling their best.
Think of simple steps you could take if you notice someone is not their self or lonely?
One of our new members could not travel independently and lived outside the village in a quieter area. Another member noticed he was very lonely and isolated and could not attend meetings or group activities. Members phoned each other and offered to travel outside their area and meet the new member at the bus stop so they could attend activities. This was beneficial to his mental health as he could join in walking groups, arts & crafts and he really enjoyed the football as he was a young fit man. This made him and members so happy as he was less lonely and enjoying social interactions.
Have you ever Met someone in a similar situation?
Think how you could help?
Try to smile at people, having someone smile back or start conversation could change your day.
How Can we stop Feeling Lonely?
- Try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional, phone helpline or counsellor.
- Consider joining a group or class that focuses on something you enjoy; you could ask to go along and just watch first if you are feeling nervous.
What has Neighbourhood Networks been doing?
Neighbourhood Networks recognises that everyone’s health and wellbeing is important. To promote positive attuites across the workforce we have set up ‘Time to Talk sessions’ which brings staff together from all aspects of the organisation.
The purpose of this group is to bring people together in a safe space where they can talk about how they are feeling, offer or receive support from others and share top tips on how to look after yourself.
As a trial we gave each member of staff 2 hours Wellbeing which could be taken over a 2-month period. This was a great success all round. Staff said it was just what they needed and it helped them to remember that ‘Its OK to take time for YOU’
Click the link below to see some of the amazing things that staff got upto to look after their own wellbeing.
Combatting against Loneliness and Social Isolation is something Neighbourhood Networks is extremely passionate about by being kind and looking out for each other we are one step closer to making a difference.
The small things really do count. Getting together with friends, saying hello or event just a smile.
Happiness is found connecting
Positive thoughts create positive things
Kindness is free. Smiles are contagious
Feeling Connected to others is a basic human need
To find out more on how you can connect with others and look after your own wellbeing click the links below:
Always remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE as the famous Neighbourhood Network saying goes Together Anything Is Possible
Written by Dorothy Watson and Claire Strong