Knowing that you’re never alone
If ever the importance of being part of something has been highlighted, the time certainly is now. Whether that is your close family, LGBTQ+ family, close friends, colleagues, faith, or whatever; we all need a little support sometimes. It’s just we might not consciously register that when we are going through the emotions of current external event, how important our own mental health and well-being might be.
Even the most extrovert of us, can’t help but feel a little isolated during lockdown, we’re all missing the lack of personal contact and close interaction. However, we are keeping in touch with people, it can be a poor second to personal physical contact with the ones we care about. Sometimes, we don’t even need to chat that much to the people, we care about in their presence, it’s just knowing that they are there.
But, in these unusual times we can find support in whatever way it comes. One pastime that seems to be coming out in the lead at the moment, which some of my friends seem to be participating in via videotelephony, is a quiz. So, after we get through this pandemic, hopefully with a more thoughtful society, we could also be a little more knowledgeable one resulting from all this quizzing.
But, what if quizzes are not your thing? Well, we just need to consider alternative ways of reaching out. After reaching out to family and close friends, I’ve been reaching out the friends I know through LGBT sports clubs that I’ve been involved in. Though, we all can’t meet up to train together at present, it doesn’t mean we all can’t connect with the communities we are part of. One thing to take away; however you know someone, if you think of them at the moment, why not reach out to them?
Recently, lockdown has certainly given me the opportunity to further develop the friendships I’ve made through being part of London Knockout LGBTQ+ Boxing Club. I feel the main benefit in the shift of speeds in our lifestyles is that it’s giving us a greater prospective on life; understanding introverts, going within and drawing resilience, and at the same time, an opportunity to get to know some of my other club members better. I’ve certainly cherished developing closer friendships with some of them as a result.
Having being previously involved in a couple of other LGBT sports club – East End Phoenix and Out to Swim and other sports related initiatives like London’s Gay Games bid and Out for Sport, I know only too well how friendly and supportive being part of such clubs can be. You can view a list of some of the different sports clubs here.
Have you been thinking of returning to a sport you once played or taking up a new sport? Don’t let lockdown measures deter you from getting involved, If you are interested get in touch, though the clubs are not able to play or compete in person now, you can be sure they are probably connecting with each other somehow, whether possibly doing some online training with each other, but if not that, you can be sure they are at least connecting for a chat or a quiz. So, reach out, you can be sure of a welcoming response.
Take the time to invest in yourself, for some that might be taking part in something new, but sometimes we might need some more support than that. There’s lots of support out there and there’s nothing wrong in asking for help.
Here is a list of some of the charities and services that may be able to provide some support:
- Mind LGBTIQ+ mental health
- MindOut Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Queer Mental Health Service
- LGBT | Together: A leading UK mental health charity
- London Friend
- Switchboard LGBTQ+ Helpline
Feeling isolated? #TakeItOnline to tackle loneliness
Staying connected with the wider world, and avoiding feelings of isolation and loneliness can be a challenge at the best of times, but – for many of us – being stuck at home by ourselves is fast becoming the new normal.
Here’s some tips to try and keep everything in perspective and to help get you through however long this period of uncertainty continues for.
Use the technology
Your phone unlocks a world of communication and interaction.
Even if you don’t have friends or family close-by or in the same time-zone, online communication was how we got most things done long before Covid-19 pulled the rug out from our daily lives.
Gaydar – the online dating specialists – are encouraging everyone to #TakeItOnline. You may not be able to go to your local cafe, your local bar, or your local bathhouse, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t chat with guys, have a few virtual dates, or join in online chatrooms to keep yourself entertained during extended periods of enforced isolation.
Don’t beat yourself up about being by yourself or isolated
Covid-19 is a virus. It’s not your fault. It’s not anyone else’s fault. We’re all in this together and trying to navigate our way through.
Try not to get angry, upset, or frustrated. Stay calm and focus on the facts.
Obviously, that’s easier to say than to do. If you feel your anxiety rising, try and identify and articulate those emotions. Take a break from what you’re doing, go for a shower, do some sit-ups, masturbate – something to take your mind off the frustrations of being isolated.
When it feels like the world is spinning out of control, it can be tempting to go on a bit of a bender, but that can go badly wrong if you’re by yourself and not in the best head-space.
If you feel yourself heading to a bit of a low-point, drugs or alcohol aren’t going to make you feel better – they’ll only accelerate you spiralling out of control.
Be proactive – remove the temptations and activate your support networks to help get you back on track.
Staying in is the new going out
What will you post on Instagram if you’re not going out and living it large? Set yourself some challenges to entertain yourself and your followers.
Maybe it’s a make-up look that you’ve been wanting to try? Why not run an online poll about some of your more controversial wardrobe choices? Maybe this is the time to start a fan-subscription channel and unleash your inner-exhibitionist?
Think about what’s making you lonely
It’s important to distinguish being by yourself to feeling alone or lonely. Some people are really happy with their own company, and enjoy a bit of space from the rest of the world, while for others that might leave them feeling isolated and vulnerable.
Try and articulate your emotions and try to pinpoint what might be triggering them. Are you feeling lonely because you don’t see or talk to other people enough? Or are you feeling lonely because you feel that the people around you don’t understand you?
Make new connections
Whatever might be triggering your feelings of loneliness, one of the best ways to tackle it is to take some action. Find ways to interact with people, or find ways to connect with people who might understand you a bit better. This could be joining a community group, taking a class, volunteering with a charity, or joining a sports club. If you’re not feeling confident about meeting people face-to-face, there’s lots of online options.
One of the weird things about loneliness is that even if you’re surrounded by people, you might still feel lonely. You might be spending time with your family, but if you feel that your family don’t really know you, or don’t really understand what you’re going through or experiencing, then this can feel very isolating.
The best remedy is to try and find a way to express your feelings. If you can’t connect with anyone in your family, reach out to friends, or online contacts. If that’s not possible, try writing about your emotions, or finding another creative outlet so that you’re not bottling everything up inside.
Take it slow
Don’t expect instant miraculous change. If you’re feeling lonely, it can take a while to work through that – it can take a while for you to build connections with others.
Make small steps. Set yourself small goals to accomplish each day. If you join a chatroom and don’t immediately find someone to talk to, don’t be discouraged – try a different one tomorrow.
Keep trying new things until you find what works for you.
Be careful when comparing yourself to others
Social media platforms – such as Instagram – can be a great way to keep in touch with your friends and to follow other people’s aspirational adventures. It’s important that you’re not comparing yourself to anyone else – especially people on the internet who you’ve never met.
The thing about social media is that most people are presenting the absolute best version of themselves, or the person that they’d like to be. It’s not necessarily what they’re really doing – they don’t always look so glamorous, they don’t always feel so great. Everyone has their highs and lows.
Check how you are feeling
When you’re feeling lonely, or at an emotional low, things can quickly spiral out of perspective.
Try and check-in with yourself. Make notes to try and understand what might be influencing or triggering how you’re feeling. Did you sleep well? Have you eaten? Have you had some exercise? Have you reached out to speak with someone?
Give yourself a checklist of things to do to keep your day on track.
Get some help
Don’t let your isolation become a barrier that prevents you from asking for help.
If you’re feeling vulnerable, or if you just need some advice or guidance, there’s lots of organisations and helplines out there who you can access by telephone or online.
Just talking to a friend or someone you know can be a big help in staying focused on moving forward and staying connected with the world around you.
Read others’ stories
It can be really helpful to realise that you’re not the only person who struggles with feeling alone or lonely.
There’s lots of blogs and books and podcasts from people talking about their personal experiences, their highs and lows, and how they’ve tried to manage their struggles.
Hearing how other people have tackled things can help to give you confidence that you’re on the right track.
People aren’t mind readers
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you’re looking at your phone and wondering why you’re not being flooded with messages, why not take the first step and reach out to the people that you know?
Is there some way that you can help your friends and family?
Covid-19 doesn’t have to make us all victims, but it does mean we’ve got to be a bit proactive and a bit innovative.
Get your phone out and put it to work – let’s all #TakeItOnline