We’ve been subjected to a global pandemic for over a year now and, with country-wide vaccination success, we’re hopefully coming towards the end of what has been one of the most testing periods in our recent history.
There’s another pandemic we don’t talk about just as much and that’s loneliness. People are moving far and wide for reasons of work and education, away from their families and communities and into large, isolated cities. Conversely, services are being cut in rural areas enforcing isolation on older people and families. Or, you may be surrounded by friends, family and colleagues but still feel lonely.
Loneliness is one of the last mainstream taboos: we may not want to admit to it but it’s something many of us feel every single day.
Thankfully, with the lifting of restrictions (all being well), activities organised by dedicated groups and individuals up and down the country will resume, alleviating the loneliness that can have such a negative effect on our mental and physical health.
What might give us that extra push to try something new with friends we haven’t met yet is the summer olympics!
Will watching team sports on the tele convince you to take up netball? Who knows!?
What we do know is that large televised sports events see a marked increase in people joining gyms and sports clubs. Did you pick up a tennis racket after Wimbledon? Or kick a football for the first time in years following the Euros?
The adrenaline felt by a world-class athlete easily transmits to the viewer: who hasn’t screamed at the TV during the 100m sprint!?
Why not take that energy and channel it into a team sport? There are amateur clubs all over the UK, many of which don’t take their chosen sport that seriously, if you’re worried you won’t make the cut. Many of them are attended by people who want to make friends as well as learn a new skill. Guaranteed, you won’t be the only one who has experienced loneliness.
Let’s break the loneliness taboo
Did you know that the UK is considered the loneliness capital of Europe?
According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in ten of us has experienced feelings of loneliness, but we don’t talk about it. Social media paints a very distorted picture of the reality for our young people; when we scroll we think we’re seeing happy, shiny people with tons of friends and sparkling social lives, yet 60% of our youth report feeling lonely.
After the year we’ve had getting together with new people might be a very welcome change to being cooped up in the house.
But the enforced restrictions may have made some of us extra-introverted and too nervous to venture outside.
These feelings are completely normal. You are not alone feeling either, or both!
Health and safety precautions may be in place but that needn’t prevent us having fun with likeminded people.
Sign up for Team Sport!
Team sports are nothing like our school experiences of years gone by.
As well as improving general fitness, playing a team sport can develop key skills like teamwork, communication and resilience. You can also build confidence and discover an assertiveness you never knew you had.
Working together and aiming for a common goal (pun intended!) can really boost mental health.
Plus, if the weather permits, you can enjoy a good dose of fresh air. Otherwise, book a court in your local, friendly leisure centre and get your sweat on and have fun!
We can understand why the Greeks invented the Olympics all those years ago. What could be better than coming together to cheer on our brightest and best?
And there’s nothing stopping you from joining the sporting fraternity, even if it’s just for the company; the benefits will far outweigh any initial embarrassment!
Good luck on your Team Sport journey. You’re not alone.