Lifestyle

Beat Loneliness by Joining Chatter & Natter

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It is especially during lockdown that people feel lonely, but loneliness is a real epidemic and has been a serious problem since longe before Coronavirus. Did you know that lonely people are up to 32% more likely to die earlier than socially connected people? It ranks with smoking, lack of physical activity and obesity. This is why I was compelled to write a blog post on the subject – How to beat loneliness by joining Chatter & Natter.

I myself was feeling the effects of loneliness even though I am lucky enough to have my immediate family around me during lockdown. The truth is, it can affect any of us, even when we are surrounded by people. Isolation is common and it can become a habit if we let it be. Imagine what it’s like to be alone all day. Sadly, some people are forced to be alone, not necessarily by choice, for any reason.

When dealing with my own bout of loneliness, I felt as though I was stuck in my own mind day in, day out. Even though I was here with my partner and 2 young kids, I started feeling detached. I felt as though I needed to reach out to someone in the same boat. I felt weird about feeling lonely and thought people might think I was being a bit silly, since I was surrounded by my family but not only that, it feels like a weakness in some way.

After a few days of feeling this way and not wanting to bother friends and close family about it, I decided to bottle it up and honestly started to feel really upset. It drove me into a feeling of despair almost. I couldn’t shake the feeling and started to just zone out. I would read my book and put on my headphones just to distract myself from the thoughts of loneliness. I ended up bursting into tears one day alone in my bedroom.

I realised that I needed and missed human connection on a daily basis other than just being with the kids all day and night. My partner was spending a lot of time busying himself with jobs around the house at the time and I would be waiting for him to finish up so I could have a conversation with an adult. I loved being with the kids during the day and having so much quality time but I needed some real conversation since both kids are under 5. The thing was, he was often having a quick dinner then heading up to the office and going onto a regular Zoom chat with his friends. I would be disappointed and alone for the rest of the evening and the kids would be up with me until we all went to bed.

After a few days of trying to act normal and pretend I was fine I ended up in a bit of a mess. I had to take my partner aside and tell him that I needed more time together. We talked and I told him how I was feeling but then it kind of dawned on me. It wasn’t his fault, he was just used to having that social contact all the time up until lockdown so he was missing it too. I had been having video calls and long phone calls with my friends the odd weekend but not all the time.

We run a restaurant and bar and we both work there full time normally. I am used to having people around constantly and chatting with people daily. He would normally be running the bar in the evenings and it would be busy on weekends. We work together so are always talking amongst each other throughout the day. I think when that changed, for the first couple of weeks we were enjoying the bit of freedom and time as a family so I didn’t miss the daily socialising.

After a few weeks is when it hit me. It may sound strange to feel lonely in such a situation with my kids right there but luckily for me I had them there for cuddles all the time. It got me thinking about how lucky I am to have my family with me. I began thinking about others who are alone during all of this. I started to feel guilty for feeling lonely in my situation. That made me feel really concerned for anyone facing loneliness on their own.

I went online to read more about loneliness in order to understand it better. When I discovered the statistics about lonely people dying up to 32% earlier than socially connected people I was astonished but when I remembered the physical stress I felt in my body I understood. I felt anxious, sad and like I had a pain in my chest. If stress is so bad for us, then loneliness is clearly similar.

I actually became completely preoccupied by it, like I couldn’t get away from it. It was in my head but I felt like my whole body was suffering from it. I definitely believe negative thoughts manifest themselves and can create a downward spiral but this was also physical. When I spoke to my partner about it we agreed to hug more often and that was a huge relief. It wasn’t a really regular thing throughout the day normally but for the next few days I would randomly reach out and he did too. It was very comforting.

We crave human touch for survival and it is a primal basic survival instinct. It is in our nature to want to be close to others so not having that can be detrimental to health. During evolution humans would know to remain safe by staying close together in the wild. That is why we still NEED to have connection with each other or our bodies can go into survival mode.

hand on a window black and white photo

I started talking about my concerns for lonely people, as I couldn’t stop thinking of others experiencing such feelings. I was thinking about my neighbours, especially elderly ones with nobody around. I was compelled to come up with an idea to reach out.

Coronavirus lockdown was making things worse with social distancing so now they probably had no one to chat to at all during the day. It made me so sad to think of a day where you see no one and have nobody to talk to. Normally when you go the shop you will meet some locals and have a chat or at least talk to the cashier. With lockdown that was even less likely. It could very easily get you down.

I went online to read more about loneliness and try to come up with some solutions to get the community together after lockdown ends. That was when I discovered the Chatty Cafe Scheme.

The site was set up by a young woman who was overcome by isolation and loneliness after having her first child. One day when the baby was 4 months old she sat down in a cafe and looked around. She noticed an elderly lady and a young guy with special needs and his assistant, all looking like they could use some company and looking a bit down. She began wondering about how to bring people like herself, feeling lonely and missing social interaction together. Her story reminded me of the isolation I felt myself when I had a new baby, after moving to a foreign country.

That was when she came up with the idea for Chatter & Natter tables. She had a lightbulb moment and came up a solution of asking cafes to put a simple sign on a few random tables with “Chatter & Natter” table talkers on them. That way if someone was feeling like having a chat with a stranger, they would sit at one of the designated tables and other like-minded people would join them.

You don’t even have to be on your own or feeling lonely to join in. You could be a couple or friends or just wanting to meet new people.

Chatter & Natter table talkers and flyers to advertise
Chatter & Natter table talkers and flyers to look out for

Today there are over nine hundred businesses using Chatter & Natter tables! The Chatty Cafe scheme has won the “Innovate in Ageing winner” award. This was a national competition to find innovate solutions to an ageing population and the judges liked the scheme because it is so simple yet very effective.

It was really heart-warming to read about the positive effect the Chatter & Natter was having in the communities all over the world. So far they are in the UK,  Poland, Gibraltar and Australia. You can check if there are any in your area by using the search tool on their main site. 

If there aren’t any in your area and you would be keen to start one, why not suggest it to your local cafe/restaurant or bar? Now might not be the best time due to social distancing but I bet everyone will be so relieved when things go back to normal. We will all be trying to connect more than ever in person.

For the time being, they are operating a Zoom online Chatter & Natter cafe which you can register for here. It is so nice to have that support online from other people reaching out and connecting with each other. Even if they are strangers online, it is still a connection and maybe even a life-line for some.

It is a cool way to make friends who are looking to get to know new people. I know I will be going online to have a chat and hope to set it up in our restaurants when the social distancing rules are eventually relaxed. I want to go a step further and offer half price coffees for the elderly community one or two mornings a week.

It is so important for people to stay connected and keep loneliness at bay. Not just old people but anyone feeling the need to socialise. We will hopefully have at least two Chatter and Natter tables available.

What a wonderful idea to help bring people together. I hope to see more Chatter & Natter tables cropping up everywhere. Happy to spread the word and help get the idea to as many people as possible! Give this a share if you think it can benefit anyone you know. I guess communities and businesses alike can benefit. Spread the positive vibes! 🙂

Let me know your thoughts in the comments and feel free to reach out to me if you’re feeling lonely. You’re not alone.

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Summary
Article Name
Beat Loneliness by Joining Chatter & Natter
Description
It is especially during lockdown that people feel lonely, but loneliness is a real epidemic. 32% more likely to die earlier than socially connected people. I was feeling lonely myself during lockdown when I discovered Chatter & Natter.
Author
Publisher Name
Blog News Weekly
6 Comments
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Get post alerts :
RSS
FACEBOOK
FACEBOOK
PINTEREST
PINTEREST
INSTAGRAM
Summary
Article Name
Beat Loneliness by Joining Chatter & Natter
Description
It is especially during lockdown that people feel lonely, but loneliness is a real epidemic. 32% more likely to die earlier than socially connected people. I was feeling lonely myself during lockdown when I discovered Chatter & Natter.
Author
Publisher Name
Blog News Weekly

Comments

  1. Shelley S
    May 28, 2020 at 4:51 am

    I love this concept of “Chatter & Natter” tables! It helps especially for introverts like me who are never sure how to start a conversation with a stranger. 🙂

  2. littlemisadvencha
    May 28, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    what i can say about this is to fight loneliness through healthy distractions. it’s one way of boosting our mental health. This might come in the form of listening to music, blogging, reading, watching movies, and other activities that interest you. When it comes also to socializing online, it’s good to reconnect with friends. and also, it’s good to stay healthy by staying away from toxicity. 🙂

  3. chad
    May 28, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    Chatter and Natter! I never heard of this before, I love the idea…I would love to join something like that, must be awesome…

  4. Nina
    May 28, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    I totally agree with you. The loneliness can be unbearable but there is always solutions and support online. Humans are social beings, its part of our nature.

  5. My kitchen
    May 29, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    It’s such a good idea.a thought of people are lonely as family and friends have limited visits.it’s a good thing people will have someone to talk to.

  6. Maysz
    May 30, 2020 at 4:08 am

    Loneliness can kill your vibe promise I’ve been there many times to cope my sadness I do some house chores and doing things to enjoy myself. This is awesome about “Chatter & Natter” tables!

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