South Warwickshire GP Addresses Loneliness During Lockdown

A leading South Warwickshire GP practice has issued advice over rising cases of severe loneliness brought on by prolonged periods of isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the feelings millions of people are experiencing as the country battles Covid-19 is loneliness. According to a survey of UK adults, just one in 10 said they had feelings of loneliness prior to the pandemic.

However, as lockdown was implemented this number rose and, within weeks, the figure grew to one in four experiencing feelings of loneliness.

Dr Caroline Saunders, from private GP practice Concierge Medical, said that while many people associated loneliness with older individuals who may live alone, the impact of social distancing goes far beyond this.

Dr Saunders said: “I have seen first hand how loneliness has affected all age groups, both young and old throughout this pandemic.

“The knock-on effects of lockdown have seen young children across the country forced to interact via screens, staying apart at breaktime, adapting to a “new normal” of face masks and hand gel.

“I’ve also seen a surge in teenagers presenting with eating disorders and anxiety, young adults struggling to cope with uncertainty, job losses and the loss of daily interaction.

“Many parents have been battling the balance of working from home and homeschooling with no social network to escape to for support.

“I’ve witnessed families struggling to live in confined spaces not used to spending so much time together, couples struggling with the impact of changing circumstances on their relationships. I have watched grandparents feeling isolated and alone, missing interaction with their children.

“For many, I have seen feelings of guilt and bereavement of putting a loved one into a care home and being unable to visit.

“We all have our own story to tell of how lockdown has affected us, and, as many of us face another wave of tougher restrictions, we must look for ways to counteract this ongoing challenge on our mental health.

“We need to adapt how we connect with people and find new ways to stay in touch during this time. The solution to loneliness doesn’t need to come in the form of a new app or giant balloon bubble. Indeed, it can be tackled in a number of simple ways. For example, staying in touch via video calls, text messages or just regular phone calls, can make all the difference.

“One area which is often overlooked when it comes to improving our own mental health is the positive impact doing good for others has. Not only does it release positive endorphins, but it also gives us a sense of achievement for the day, a sense of belonging.

“It’s not uncommon that those who live alone may go days without other human interaction, therefore reaching out and sending them a message or a phone call could make a big difference to their life.

“Another area that is often underrated when it comes to helping our mental health is getting regular exercise. Important for good physical and mental health, exercise helps stimulate the parts of your brain that promotes the release of feel-good chemicals.

“In addition to this, I urge people to not underestimate the power of distraction. Listening to music, a podcast or even just the sounds of the world as you exercise can be an excellent way of distracting yourself from negative feelings you were experiencing.

“Exercise can come in many forms and is not limited to running, cycling, swimming or even going to the gym. It can be as simple as going for a walk.

“At Concierge we strongly believe the stigma surrounding loneliness must be broken. So, please reach out to a medical professional if you are worried about the impact loneliness is having on yours, or someone you care about’s, mental health.”

For more information about Concierge Medical, visit www.conciergemedical.co.uk.

Dr Caroline Saunders, from private GP service Concierge Medical, who has offered expert guidance and advice on loneliness during lockdown.