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While we are still living in lockdown and not knowing when the restrictions will ease, there are millions of people across the UK and beyond who have spent the first four weeks of 2021 alone.

The good news is that the rollout of vaccines appears to offer a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you or someone you know might be experiencing loneliness, here are 5 ways you can lift yourself and others up during these unsettling times.

Become a befriender

Everyone needs other people, but not everyone has someone. Making friends and having a natter with someone new may put a smile on your face and hopefully theirs as well. 

Telephone befriending service ‘The Silver Line’ operates in the UK and helps to connect those who are elderly and experiencing loneliness with those who are willing to volunteer their time for a friendly chat. Recruits are needed now, more than ever. If you are willing to volunteer for as little as half an hour a week, click here to get involved.

If you would like to become a befriender and dedicate more of your time to support those who might be struggling throughout lockdown, you can read more information about the service and how it can help, on the Befriending Networks website here.

Talk and walk

Taking a walk with someone can help tackle loneliness. With the current lockdown rules, you are able to walk with one other person from one other household in your local area.

Exercise can lift your mood and help take your mind off things, so try walking, cycling or running outdoors if you can – or make an indoor class part of your daily routine.

Connecting with colleagues

Many of us may be working from home and sometimes that can get quite lonely when there is no one around to discuss challenges and new ideas. If you are feeling disconnected from your team, why not suggest a virtual workshop? Jess Shaw, the founder of PACT Creative, has put together team building online sessions via video conference. It’s a fun way to connect with your colleagues, let off some steam and create some office banter.

Do more of the things that make you happy

During a lockdown, it’s hard to do things we enjoy because we are tied to our homes. When you’re at home, entertaining radio shows or podcasts are a good way to occupy your mind and keep you company. Joining an online book club and listening to audiobooks can also help to keep you occupied. There are also lots of comedy clubs online, so search for something that will make you laugh.

Learn something new

If you want to do something that gets you thinking about other things, why not try learning a new language? There are many online courses, from beginners through to advanced classes. If you are looking to enhance your work skills or learn a new skill, there are plenty of free online professional courses out there.

Another option to consider is taking up a new hobby.  If you enjoy learning with others, you could join an online class for arts and crafts, cookery, DIY or gardening.

Nonetheless, the next few months will be tough and will exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation. There are many ways we can connect with each other during these unprecedented times. From volunteering for a charity to picking up a new hobby, these are just a few of the things you can do to help yourself and others combat loneliness this winter.

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