Loneliness and isolation during the coronavirus outbreak and what you can do to cope 27 March 2020 Having contact with others, getting out and about and sharing time with friends and family is really important for our physical and emotional health. It gives us a sense of wellbeing, happiness and safety. However, the impact of coronavirus means that we are not able to get out and share time with others, outside of our households, as we normally would. Because of this, you may experience feelings of loneliness and isolation. While, sadly, many people with long-term health conditions already know what it is like to spend long periods of time feeling isolated, the recent government advice to introduce social distancing, self-isolation and shielding could potentially leave many more people vulnerable to feelings of sadness about being alone, or feeling disconnected from what was, only a few weeks ago, normal life. To stop the spread of coronavirus in Scotland, it is important we follow government guidelines around staying at home and avoiding contact with others. The Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland ‘No Life Half Lived’ strategy is our commitment to help and support people who need us the most, and for many of them, this is now. We understand that the longer this outbreak lasts, the more opportunity there is for people to experience a change in their physical or mental health. However, the question we need to ask is how do you make the best of the current situation? But there are some small steps you can take to improve feelings of loneliness and isolation. We have put together some useful tips to help you cope with social distancing and self-isolation. Stick to a routine Start your morning by writing down some simple tasks or goals and work on achieving these throughout the day. If you are working from home this could mean ensuring that you take a lunch break, work with purpose and don’t feel guilty about taking regular short breaks. Use technology to avoid isolation It is really important to try to stay in contact with others as much as possible through phone calls, emails, messaging and video calls. Use technology to reach out and get in touch with family or friends to avoid feeling lonely and isolated. Platforms like Skype, Zoom or Facetime provide online options to contact others. If you are unsure what technology to use, or how to use it, phone a friend or family member and ask for advice. Do something fun If you’re spending all day at home because of the coronavirus outbreak, why not use some of that time to watch a movie or read a book you haven’t made time to start? Play games like Sudoku, online chess, or try a crossword puzzle to keep your mind active! This will help you to do something enjoyable and take your mind off worries you may have about isolation. Find a new at-home hobby YouTube is an incredible resource which has everything from inspiring TED Talks and yoga videos, to seated exercise classes and knitting tutorials. These videos are available to watch free of charge and can help you discover a new interest or activities to try at home. Whatever you choose to do, ensure that it is right for you and your health. Safe shopping If you are an older adult, check and see if the shops in your local community are open at certain times specifically for you. If you’re not sure, you could phone a friend or family member and ask if they can find out for you. Remember to always follow the government advice on social distancing, self-isolation and shielding. This may include some doing your shopping for you and leaving it on your doorstep. People who deliver things to you must not come into your home and you must not leave your home to meet them. This is especially important if you have an existing health condition, or are in one of the vulnerable groups. Keep a diary Start keeping a diary and write about something that interests you or about good things that have happened that day, even if they are only very small. You could even have a try at writing a short story. Look after yourself Take some time to learn more about how to look after yourself well. For example, read more about healthy eating and perhaps try to incorporate some healthy choices into your diet. Knowing that you are doing something good for yourself will help you feel a sense of achievement and wellbeing. Know where to look for advice Every Mind Matters offers more advice and tips for combatting loneliness and isolation if you are staying at home during the coronavirus outbreak. We will also soon be updating our Coronavirus Health Information pages with more information on coping with social isolation and loneliness. If you feel like you need more support, we are here to help. Please phone our Advice Line on 0808 801 0899 for free, confidential advice on how to cope if you are experiencing feeling of loneliness and isolation, or aren’t sure how to cope with your condition whilst self-isolating.