Be kind to yourself
This week is loneliness week and as we are slowly returning to the ‘new normal’ but I want to remind you to go at your own pace. For over a year we have been living through various stages of lockdown, including rules of six, essential travel, and school closures. With this in mind, we need to remember that not everyone is going to want to jump straight into the deep end. It is ok to move at your own speed and do what you feel comfortable with.
Lockdown and your mental health
Evidence has found that young people are feeling more anxious emerging from the pandemic than they were before the outbreak. A key risk factor to children and young people’s mental health during lockdown has been loneliness. In part by the stress of maintaining social support with friend groups and classmates during lockdown.
The limitations on our day-to-day life have made everyone, at some point, feel lonely, out of control, or worried. Lockdown has, in this respect, been a shared experience. Loneliness week therefore, presents an opportunity to share our experiences, raise awareness, and understand how to manage these feelings.
Using the online to stay connected
For over a year we have relied on the online world to keep us connected: virtual quizzes and parties, online learning and lessons, synchronised Netflix viewings, and gaming (to name just a few). We have been lucky to be able to keep connected digitally. Yet, as we transition from online to real life it is important to take your time throughout this process. This helps it remain an exciting next step rather than being over-shadowed by anxiety or feelings of uncertainty.
Technology and the online world have dominated our lives more than ever this past year. Because of this, reintegrating to face to face situations may feel overwhelming. As we emerge from lockdown it is important that we step away from our phones, tablets, and consoles. Studies have found that technology and online spaces create reward patterns, these keep us engaged for longer and releases a feeling of reward called dopamine. These positive feelings keep our engagement levels up. When we are not doing these things, feelings of loneliness are reinforced causing distress and a negative perspective on our life and actions. These feelings can make us feel even lonelier.
Yet it is not all doom and gloom. The online and virtual world has kept us connected and has enabled us to see our grandparents, friends, siblings, teachers, and classmates’. This can hugely improve our sense of connectedness.
Getting back out there
Our social interactions have been limited and its effected on our sense of self. We now have the opportunity to step outside and see our friends, family, and peers in the flesh. This could feel both overwhelming and exciting. Overall, remember that you are not alone in these feelings. Take it at your own pace, see people in an environment you feel comfortable with, don’t feel pressured to do everything all at once. You know yourself. Take things slow and enjoy getting back out there.
Thank you to Natalie, one of our young ambassadors for writing this blog around loneliness is the covid world.