It is important to remember that this is a short-term disruption to the usual pattern of our lives. Loneliness and social isolation for many will be short lived. However, there are many lessons and aspects we can learn from, and maintain once this unprecedented period is over.
The tips below have been devised by Dr Deborah Morgan, and Dr Amy Murray who work at the Centre for Innovative Ageing, Swansea University. Personal expertise, published research, grey literature, and input from members of the public, through using social media, along with face to face and over the phone conversations has been used to inform the key points within this document.
- Try to maintain or begin a routine. This may mean getting up and eating at usual times. Break the day up into small chunks, so it seems less overwhelming. This can be as frequent as every one to two hours.
- Cleaning can be a good activity to motivate yourself to ‘do’ something. It is also good practice to build into a routine, if a routine works for you. If cleaning or tidying seems overwhelming at present, try to address a very small task to begin, such as bleaching the loo, or putting clothes away in their correct places. Try using cleaning products with an uplifting scent, such as lemon or orange.
- You could use this time to reorganize your home, and have a sort out of spaces you have been putting off for a while. This could begin by sorting out utensils and cutlery in a kitchen drawer, to bigger tasks, such as clearing out your wardrobe. There are many organisations, including hospitals, who are appealing for clothing for their patients or community members at the moment, during this period of lockdown.
- Maintain daily social contact. If possible, try to connect with family, friends and those in your local community. This may be a daily chat on the telephone, or if you have access to technology, video calls are a great way of connecting. Think about using this time to contact somebody who you may not have spoken to for a while; a little message of support goes a long way! If you have a smartphone, you could also try setting up Whatsapp groups for family members, friendship groups, work colleagues etc. If you only have access to a standard mobile phone or landline, you could share your number into a pool of neighbours within your area. This can create the opportunity for regular communication, as well as a place to exchange requests for essentials or for some social support. It is also helpful to connect with others who are self-isolating during this period. This can also be a way of sharing hints and tips with one another, about how to maintain wellbeing at home.
If this is not possible, and you are over 70 years old, there are wider organisations you can call for support. See Age UK Befriending Services or call 08000 223 444 (Age Cymru Advice Line).
To read Dr Deborah Morgan and Dr Amy Murray's full article, please click here.