How To Cope With Feeling Isolated After Redundancy
Marcus Hamilton is the founder of Frindow, a site to to help combat isolation. We asked him to share his thoughts on the issue of feeling isolated after redundancy. What might people do to combat this.
Isolation is one of the problems facing so many people at the moment. This is especially difficult for those who have been made redundant. They no longer have the support network of work. It’s important to note that isolation and loneliness are not the same thing. With loneliness, you can be surrounded by people but still feel disconnected in some way. Isolation, in and of itself, may not lead to any loneliness at all. However, it’s common for many people to experience loneliness when they are isolated, and it’s this loneliness that poses the danger.
The dangers of loneliness
There are many dangers relating to loneliness. Obviously, it can affect your mental health by leading to depression and/or anxiety. Chronic and persistent loneliness can even affect how you interact with other people. This can sometimes be in a negative way, and can lead to further loneliness.
Loneliness can also cause problems with your physical health. Many studies have shown that persistent loneliness can affect your blood pressure, and cause heart problems. Some studies suggest that it may even increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
There are some things that people can do to stop feeling isolated after redundancy. The first thing to do is resolve to change things. It is very common for people to “wait it out” in the hope that things will get better. Although circumstances may naturally improve, it’s always better to be proactive. The specific things that people can do is to make an effort to see (if permitted) and speak to family and friends. Put some time aside every week, or day if you feel you need it, to catchup with people with whom you have a good relationship. It’s surprising how long this mood lifter can last.
The other thing is to keep yourself actively engaged by doing things that you enjoy. We tend to get so bogged down with work or family life that we forget the importance of “me time”. Read that book, learn that instrument, finally do the garden. These things offer their own reward and serve as very effective distractions from what would otherwise feel like boredom.
Finally on this point, it’s important to try and stay fit and exercise. Exercise has been shown to be as effective in treating mild to moderate depression as antidepressants. With the benefits to physical and mental health, regular exercising is an all round winner.
For those who are shy, I would say I’ve suffered from shyness for all of my life. I know exactly how difficult it can be to overcome. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that showing my shyness makes me more socially awkward. This just fuels the “oh no, they’re looking at me!” syndrome. So I pretend that I’m not shy (although I often feel it inside) and this relaxes me.
The takeaway, I would say, is that if you feel shy, go ahead and do it anyway. Knowing that you’ve done something despite your anxieties around it, will be hugely rewarding.
Frindow as a tool to prevent feeling isolated after redundancy
I created Frindow to help people meet other people. It helps by introducing you to people who have similar interests or circumstances and acts as a gateway to making new friends.
I started my career in writing computer games before getting into web development. This led me into the world of online dating where a learnt a lot about how to get people connected online. The inspiration for Frindow came from my grandmother. She was in her nineties and was housebound as she suffered from terrible arthritis. When she didn’t have her family around, she suffered from chronic loneliness. From my online dating background, I thought that it would be a good idea to create a platform that catered for anyone that either felt lonely or wanted to make new friends.
Peer-support has been shown to be very effective in helping people overcome their loneliness. It’s a common misconception that it’s only the elderly that experience isolation and loneliness. There is an overwhelming body of work that indicates that it affects many different demographics, including the young, parents, people who live alone and even entrepreneurs. With COVID impinging on our daily lives, people feel the need to reach out, but often don’t know how or where to start.
Why Frindow is different
So as well as forums, one-on-one video chat, private messaging, virtual events and useful articles, Frindow also provides signposts to useful services or professionals who can offer further assistance. The aim of Frindow is to be a one-stop-shop to help people reach out, get connected and make new friends.
With LinkedIn and Facebook you are often interacting with people you know, or friends of friends. With Frindow it is more likely to be strangers. However it’s important to remember that every friend that we have ever had started off as a stranger. It was through circumstances and often, repeated exposure, that they became friends. Posting on the same Frindow group will not make you friends with someone.However, having private conversations, meeting on video chats and (the law permitting) meeting up in person can lead to friendship. Like with online dating, saying “Hi” in an email in itself does not mean love and marriage, it’s what that opportunity leads to that is important.
Meeting new people
With Frindow, you have the opportunity to have a virtual meet with the other person first as we support one-to-one video chat. Having a good sense of who the person is before you meet them is always a good idea. Additionally, as Frindow is not a dating site, meet-ups can be done in groups.
As is always the case when meeting in person for the first time, always meet in a public place (never your home) and let someone know where you are and where you are going. Frindow members can optionally confirm their accounts. This means that they give us their postal address and we send them a code in the post which they can then enter into the site. That user then gets a badge on their profile to show that they have a confirmed account. Having this confirmation system gives users an opportunity to make a more informed decision on who they interact with, with safety as a consideration.
Helping others who may be isolated
If you have noticed that someone else is isolated, it’s important to reach out to them without being over-bearing. Offer an appropriate level of support whilst always respecting that person’s privacy. If you don’t feel able to offer that support yourself, point them to places that may be able to help.
With a background in online dating and inspired by his housebound grandmother, Marcus came up with the idea of Frindow to be a place where people could meet for new friendships and peer support.
Marcus‘ vision for Frindow is to be a one-stop-shop for getting people to connect, providing useful information and pointing them in the direction of other services where needed.”
Of course, coaching is another way to feel less isolated, providing support and a sounding board for your next steps. Click here to book a career coaching session with career and redundancy coach Paula Gardner.