The importance of human connection cannot be underestimated, and I think now this is very poignant, with lockdown and separation from family, friends and social groups. Equally I feel a stronger connection with my neighbours, being in the same boat as each other and feeling a common unity with each other, I now speak to most people on my street having previously never even known who lived in some of the houses around me. As a child my mother would have known what I had been up to before I got home, we knew everyone on our street and they knew me and who I belonged to, great for feeling safe but not so good sometimes no secrets where we lived!
Luckily at this present time we can connect remotely, through technology, see each other visually. My Dad who is in his mid-seventies, can now face-time, whats-app and use zoom, we have a weekly family quiz, which he will be quizmaster this week, so we are cramming on history, golf and music from the sixties'! This brings together seven households something we rarely managed to do in normal times.
How about a good old letter? For those of us who have ever received this handwritten token from a friend or loved one will realise how fabulous they can be the personal effort made makes them special, they are also permanent and can bring joy and comfort weeks, months and years after they were originally sent, just a thought, hand writing practice for some home schoolers?
Loneliness can be behind and contribute to many of our health and behavioural issues, it can create a sense of division, choices we make to escape loneliness, long term it can lead to depression, inappropriate use of drugs and alcohol, amongst other issues.
Human beings are meant to be part of a community, a supportive network of helping each other, creating bonds and sharing experiences, the impact on our mental and physical health cannot be underestimated.
So here are some of my tips for feeling part of a community and decreasing a sense of loneliness.
3. Small and random acts of kindness can have a huge impact, a smile, letting someone go before you in a queue, offering to help a neighbour with a task you can see they are struggling with, asking for help too, can make someone feel they are valued and needed. Pay attention to how you feel when you do something that connects you even temporarily to another, the little buzz that’s stays with you longer than that short interaction and know that you may have created a chain reaction of positive connection for the rest of the day.
4. Don’t let the good things that have come from this enforced lockdown slip away once we go back to normal. Remember how nice it is to know your neighbours better. How much we have missed our social connections with family, friends, colleagues and being part of a group with a common interest such as sport and creative activities.
Blue zone residents chose to have strong family ties living in the same area as each other, create life-long friendships and value being part of their whole inclusive community. It is acknowledged that a strong health benefit exists between children and grandparents, on the whole grandparents can bypass the need to set the boundaries they had to as parents and that parental worry is not sat directly on their shoulders creating a more relaxed connection for both parties to enjoy, blue zone families have multi-generational homes maybe this is another reason for their longevity.
Our pathways offer support to improve your lifestyle through engaging and increasing your activity, improving your diet, quitting smoking and drinking less. Our Health Coaches can support those who would really like to make changes but are struggling due to barriers that might feel are holding them back. We'd love to hear from you. to find out more go to https://www.oneyoulincolnshire.org.uk/lincolnshire-residents
The Live Well Blueprint Series
Lisa Dean, Lead Health Coach
May 14, 2020