Dealing with loneliness can be difficult and speaking about it can be even harder. At camp, we know all about how important connection is, not just for the children and young people we serve, but for their families and the volunteers who work with them too.
If you or someone you know is struggling with loneliness, here are a few ways you can close the gap and help build a connection. From reaching out to connect to building healthy habits, there are many small kindnesses we can offer one another and increase loneliness awareness!
1. Check in regularly
It may seem simple, but making regular check-ins can help the other person feel less lonely and more supported. For someone who lives alone, it can especially help give their day more structure if they’re expecting a check-in with you. It doesn’t have to be formal, it could be popping around for a cup of tea, giving them a ring on your morning commute or inviting them over for dinner.
2. Be present with others
Becoming more present around your friends and family can help bridge the gap between you. It can start with something as simple as greeting them with a smile when they enter a room, to asking them meaningful questions about their day. Having ‘device-free’ time–whether you’re around children or adults–can bring the focus back to the room.
3. Connect with nature
Whilst human connection is the best way to resolve loneliness, nature also has its many health perks. Getting into nature, whether that’s going for a walk, doing some gardening or even buying some flowers can help you feel more grounded in the world around you. Volunteering is a great way to do this, as there are plenty of opportunities where you can volunteer outside. Our residential camps are just one example of how you can spend time outdoors and connect with others whilst helping children and young people with serious illnesses experience the mischief and magic of childhood.
4. Set routines and traditions
Sometimes lack of routine, and therefore lack of plans, can contribute to feelings of loneliness. If we’re not seeing people or doing things regularly, we can start to feel disconnected — 41% of adults in the UK have reported feeling lonelier since we experienced lockdown. Can you pick a random day, or a day that means something special to you, and set it as a tradition to get together on that day? That way you’ll have something to look forward to and enjoy a celebration together.
5. Encourage different types of play
Play is important for children and adults alike! Team sports are great for this, but if you’re less of a fan, doing an activity with a friend or child also works. There are many types of play that can help us feel connected to one another, but also help a child’s development, including social and constructive play.
At camp, we love to get together and sing camp songs! At mealtimes, you’ll find us encouraging all our campers to at least dance along to our favourite camp songs. Firm favourites at camp are dance parties, capture the flag and laser tag!
Loneliness awareness increases each year and we hope you can try these tips to prevent loneliness. It’s very common for people to feel this way, especially children and young people affected by serious illness and disability. The more we connect with one another, the more we can learn from one another and build relationships.
Come to camp
Our values at Over The Wall include support and friendship, meaning that camp is a place where you can make friends and feel less lonely. Many of our campers and volunteers make lots of friends during their time at camp — 94% of our campers felt less isolated after their time at residential camp. If you’re unable to come to our residential camps, our virtual Camp in the Cloud programme is a fantastic way to connect with people who understand your situation.
Get in touch if you’d like to know more about any of our camps on offer!