COVID-19 pandemic and long lockdowns forced people to stay away from family, friends and relatives. Due to this, loneliness spiralled during the pandemic.

To counter the rising level of loneliness after lockdown, NHS are urging people to take up gardening and dancing as it is 'vitally needed'. People suffering from isolation have also concurred with this.

Alice Gray, a 29-year-old science communicator and producer from Cardiff, struggled with loneliness during the pandemic. And she said social prescribing was 'vitally needed.'

"As a neuroscientist, I think people underestimate the impact loneliness has on our brain and health - with lonely people being more than twice as likely to have mental health issues and loneliness is considered a bigger health risk now than smoking or obesity," BBC quoted Gray as saying.

She said that loneliness could often be stereotyped as affecting older people. But it has been a widespread problem, even before the pandemic, BBC reported.

"It's not only incredibly isolating, but it's very stigmatised and often associated with the older generation - despite more young people struggling with loneliness. Three times as many young people deal with loneliness compared to older people," BBC quoted her as saying.

What is social prescribing?

Social prescribing is a formal way for primary care services to refer patients to a variety of non-clinical services, such as gardening or dancing. It is sometimes referred to as a community referral.

It often involves a worker known as a social prescriber, who designs a package for the person seeking help.

Social prescribing has been included in the Welsh government's list of priorities for the next five years.

Pre-pandemic, the Royal College of General Practitioners Wales called for all practices to have their own social prescriber.

In its loneliness action plan, the institution said: "Loneliness and social isolation can be as bad for patients as chronic long-term conditions. Loneliness puts people at a 50% increased risk of early death."