Five ways to tackle loneliness when you're social distancing

This article was first published on 16 April 2020.

1. Pick up the phone

Phone calls are amazing, and are a great way to stay connected. But seeing someone’s face really can make a huge difference on a phone call. It can lift your mood and make you feel less lonely. Think about who you can keep in contact with and how you can use apps to talk to someone face to face. It’s important that you talk to people you trust during this time and continue to stay connected. They might be in the same situation and can help you navigate anything you are going through.

2. Find your online tribe

There are lots of positive online communities, where you can make new friends, get inspired and chat about things you care about. You could try searching for groups involved in causes, music or TV shows you are passionate about. But remember to avoid anything that encourages you to do things which are harmful for your physical or mental health. If you're worried by things you're experiencing online, talk to someone you trust.

3. Don't get 'board'

Board games can be a great way to spend time with friends or family while giving you something to focus on. You can play a lot of these games online, like Monopoly or Chess.

4. Breathe!

There are lots of great free apps you can use to guide you through breathing techniques and meditation that can help ease your anxiety and clear your mind of anxious thoughts. We like to use Headspace.

5. Create a new routine

It’s likely that your normal routine will be disrupted, which you could find stressful. Take some time to work out how you want to spend your day. Creating and sticking to a new routine will help maintain a sense of normality. Remember to include things that you enjoy, like time reading or doing an online exercise class.

By Deirdre Kehoe, Director of Training and Services at YoungMinds.

If you need support

You should always tell someone about the things you’re worried about. You can tell a friend, parent, guardian, teacher, or another trusted adult. If you're struggling with your mental health, going to your GP can be a good place to start to find help. Your GP can let you know what support is available to you, suggest different types of treatment and offer regular check-ups to see how you’re doing.

If you’re in need of in-the-moment support you can contact Childline, where you can speak to a counsellor. Their lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There are more links to helpful organisations on BBC Action Line.

Holly Smale: My top tips for dealing with loneliness
Tips for coping with seeing loved ones struggling
Managing lockdown stress