THROUGHOUT January, I had planned to write about the different things we mean when we talk about self care and how we can bring those aspects into our lives when things feel difficult.

Today’s topic was to be about connection, for a moment I had thought that the recent lockdown announcements had completely scuppered my plan - how could I write about connection when we are all confined to barracks again. Upon reflection, it’s times like these we need to be reaching for self care tools like staying connected to others, in whatever form we can. 

Human beings are inherently social animals, in a twist of irony, for many of us when we feel low or not at our best we withdraw from the people around us. Withdrawal from others can make our low mood or anxiety worse. Most of us have felt lonely at some point, either through not having anyone around us we feel close to or by being surrounded by people but not really feeling connected or understood by them. Loneliness is a big issue within the UK and one that runs underneath many mental health issues.

Connection with others is important for both our physical and mental wellbeing, it’s been shown in studies to be a greater predictor of long term health than smoking or obesity, people who are more connected have less anxiety and depression and it lowers our suicide risk.

It’s not always that easy though is it, connections and relationships can be hard, we can feel hurt, have bad experiences or just feel as though no one would want to connect with us.

There’s a lot to be said for taking some time to think about how connected to people you feel at the moment. I have to add the Covid caveat in here because, if you’re anything like me  during lockdown I only really physically see one other person or my dog for weeks on end and the idea of connection has taken on a whole new online meaning. 

If you ask yourself how connected to people you felt before the lockdown and how connected you feel now, there’s likely to be some difference and that difference is having an impact on people’s wellbeing.

It’s easy to fall into negative thinking traps about friendship, those thoughts that come in telling us that we perhaps aren’t likeable, there just isn’t anyone around you can feel connected to, there’s no point trying to make new connections,  we will be rejected if we try to put ourselves out there with others, that people will let us down. If this thought process happens for you, take a moment to listen to the thoughts and then think about whether they stop you from exploring and making new connections, do the thoughts keep you feeling lonely or try to protect you from getting hurt? Do you know why you feel this way and more importantly, do you want it to change?

There’s no doubt that missing out on face to face contact is taking a toll on people; human’s are designed to be tactile, important chemicals are released when we meet face to face or hug each other.    If this new pandemic has brought back feelings of isolation, try not to withdraw, think of ways you can actively connect more with others. There are some really creative ideas out there - a few of my personal favourites are setting up neighbourhood whatsapp groups, connecting with family or neighbours by cooking the same recipe, setting up virtual book clubs, joining online exercise groups, picking the same time each week for a big family zoom call, attending virtual tours of cities or attractions.

If you feel that you don’t have the social connections to support you through this time and that is something you would like to change, this could present opportunities for connecting in new places, there are a number of friendship sites that are online catering for people who are wanting to increase their friendship circle, use local social media groups to connect and chat, try getting back in touch with people you have lost contact with and don’t be afraid of letting people know that your are feeling alone and isolated, it’s likely that they will know exactly how you feel.

Connecting back with yourself is also important, listening to how you are feeling and allowing yourself to think compassionately about yourself during this tricky time will help with low mood and feelings of anxiety. If you find yourself thinking dismissive or self critical thoughts, notice it and then try to think of something kinder to say to yourself. 

If this new lockdown has you struggling either mentally or financially, reach out to the support that’s on offer around you, think of it as just another way of staying connected.

All Best Wishes


Kirsten Antoncich is a UKCP accredited Psychotherapist, neurofeedback practitioner and a fellow of the Royal Society. She works with children, young people and adults from her base in York.

To ask her a question in complete confidence, please contact her via