If you are struggling to come to terms with the rapidly changing events over the past few weeks you are not alone. As Grand Union’s Wellbeing Project Officer, it is my role to encourage people, especially older people, to get out and about to reduce social isolation and loneliness.
Although the advice on social distancing provided by the government goes against the grain, it needs to be taken extremely seriously. This advice relates to physical distancing so that the coronavirus is prevented from spreading. However, feeling socially isolated and lonely is not inevitable, and there are steps we can take to reduce this.
One thing that Grand Union promotes is strong and healthy communities, so it is fantastic to see that the sense of community remains very strong. A huge number of essential workers, from NHS staff and carers to warehouse operatives and shop workers, are ensuring the continuation of our essential services, and at Grand Union we are working as hard as ever to support our customers.
Local authorities and existing charities are adapting their services to respond to changing needs. There has been a huge increase in local community groups being set up to support their neighbours, over 700,000 people have volunteered to help the NHS, and people across the world have gone to their doors, balconies and windows to applaud their health workers and carers. So the sense of community remains very strong.
During this difficult situation, these Wellbeing pages will be updated regularly with fresh content including ideas and links that may be able to help. Below is some more general advice, soon to be followed by links to other pages.
- Give yourself time – many of us will feel overwhelmed. Where an issue is not urgent, be patient with yourself and take time to absorb the changes and develop coping strategies.
- Limit the amount of time you spend on social media and following the news – while both of these can be valuable in terms of information, social interaction and comfort, people are reporting that overuse is causing stress. Maybe choose some times during the day when you check out the wider world, and in-between give your mind a break.
- If you are continuing to go out to work and provide essential services, try and build in some time for yourself when you get home. This may be hard, but work out what can be put on hold so that you have time to do something that helps you relax.
- If working from home, remember to take regular breaks, at least every few hours. If your job permits, maybe ask your employer if you can take extended breaks and make up the hours during the evening or at weekends.
- While it is a good idea to actively manage your wellbeing and that of your family, choose the solution that is best for you. We are all different, some people will decide on a strict daily routine, while others will feel a more flexible approach is right for them. Having said that, maintaining some structure, however relaxed, is likely to be of benefit.
- Whatever you choose, try to have some exercise each day and some fresh air. This can boost both your immune system and your wellbeing. If you have a garden try to use it, or maybe go for a walk or take another form of outdoor exercise, while keeping your distance from others. If neither of these are possible you may have a sunny doorway or window that you can sit in for a while.
- Don’t blame yourself if your well made plans go wrong, for example you start missing your exercise or spend a day feeling particular low. Every day is a new day when you can make a fresh start and if your plan really isn’t working, try a new one.