As COVID continues to ravage our world and a new set of restrictions are imposed on the UK, I sit back and think of the loneliness that so many people are facing.

Not only are we unable to socialise but lifelines for people with mental health issues such as meet-ups, counselling, courses, classes and everything else that is normally put in place to support us is either shut down or continues to be virtual… which just isn’t the same.

I live in a small rural community in Devon and I get my food shopping delivered. So there really is no reason for me to leave the house or village… apart from for my own sanity.

I’m currently studying to be a Forest School Leader. If you don’t know anything about FS read about it here. My coursework consists mainly of me demonstrating that I understand the ethos and benefits of Forest School. A lot of which I think can help people with mental health issues. The benefits of being outside are proven to reduce stress, anxiety and lift moods. Forest Bathing calms the mind and soul.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can bring this into our lives to combat loneliness. We in the UK are still allowed to exercise outside… so get outside. Visit a park, a moor, a forest, the beach, whatever you have near you. Not only will you get a huge mental lift from being outside and hopefully getting some exercise, but you’re very likely to see other people.

Google Forestry Commission, English Heritage, National Trust, National Parks, Wildlife Trusts sites. Or just sit in your local park reading your book or paper. It’s ok to bump into people outside and have a socially distanced chat. You’re not going to get arrested for it.

I’m sorry if you’re lonely, but please don’t sit at home alone making it worse. Get up and get out. I know I will be!

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