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Combating coronavirus blues: a loneliness pandemic in the making

With a long bank holiday weekend in isolation ahead of us, Bethany Robson discusses the implications of loneliness in self-isolation and how to combat the coronavirus blues.

By Bethany Robson

We’d dreamed of an extended break away from the office or lecture halls; we’d joked about it enough with our colleagues! But we’d never quite anticipated it not only being so serious and lasting so long but having to go through it completely alone. To make matters worse, within a few days the social media posts of families spending time with each other started pouring onto our feeds reminding us of how lonely this period of isolation was going to get.

Loneliness is its own beast; as if fighting off the coronavirus isn’t enough of a challenge! We’ve had the knowledge of chronic loneliness in the elderly community for years, and only now are we really getting a taste of what it’s like to be properly alone. For those most vulnerable in society, including the elderly, the chronically ill, and the pregnant, this period of isolation could last more than three months. Subsequently, experts in their droves are warning us about the consequences of being in isolation for so long, and how it will eventually affect our mental health.

Working in student media, I’ve become used to the hustle and bustle of a busy, and slightly chaotic, office. With people darting in and out between lectures, it’s safe to say that I never felt alone for very long. This is in glaring contrast to my quiet bedroom that I now work from. The transition hasn’t been as smooth as I’d thought, and I’ve found myself sometimes struggling with having to work alone when I’ve become so accustomed to working with lots of people. As many of us transition into working-from-home, we need to be honest now more than ever, about how we’re feeling.

If you’re used to chatting with loved ones every day, keep doing that! No, you might not be able to go get a coffee, but you can Facetime each other and have a cuppa together still, even if you’re both at home. The key word for this period of isolation is ‘adaption’. You don’t need to stop doing what you enjoy, you just need to adapt it to the circumstance. Like many of us are adapting to working from home, friendships and relationships with our loved ones need to change up a bit too. That’s where social media becomes our friend. I’ve managed to keep in touch with all of my friends through various group chats, and it feels like we’re still all together, albeit being hundreds of miles apart.

If you’re feeling particularly lonely, I urge you to reach out to your loved ones and have a chat.   As I’ve come to realise – a problem shared, really is a problem halved. It may feel very overwhelming at the moment, with so many people being able to spend quality time with their families. However, as always with social media, the posts you see are the highlights of a person’s life, and not necessarily the day-to-day reality. Everyone, from every kind of background, is going to meet hurdles along the way during this isolation period whether it be loneliness or struggling to juggle work life with looking after kids. One thing that we can all agree on is this; you certainly aren’t alone!

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