Social Distancing – 8 Ways To Stay Connected
Social Distancing - 8 Ways To Stay Connected
Posted on March 19th 2020 by Laura Armstrong
When we feel lonely, we are typically encouraged to get out of the house to see friends, take up a hobby, and make new connections. However, amidst social distancing to combat the coronavirus pandemic, we are having to find new ways to feel connected.
Social distancing is a measure used by public health officials to limit the spread of an illness. In the case of COVID-19, social distancing has taken on a variety of forms - bans on large gatherings, closing schools and universities, advising people to keep a certain physical distance from others, and discouraging physical contact (no handshakes, hugs, etc.). Each government has adopted different measures but all are following a social distancing strategy.
Social distancing strategies are designed to protect our physical health which is vital right now. However, the lack of connection and social isolation can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing.
How does social distancing impact mental health?
When we have limited or no contact with others, it can lead to feelings of loneliness. Studies have linked loneliness to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem.
Humans are social beings and in times of crisis, we want to band together. We can come together, just not in the ways we are used to.
Globally-acclaimed therapist Marisa Peer is passionate about helping people feel more connected. You can access Marisa’s super-effective techniques for overcoming what she calls the ‘disconnection epidemic’ to create deeper, meaningful connections.
Nothing tops in-person interaction for nurturing our bonds with others. It is important we do not lose that sense of connection during this period of uncertainty.
Here are some steps you can take to stay connected during social distancing.
1. Pick up the phone… or video chat
Living in the digital age, we have so many more ways to stay connected. Pick up the phone and speak to your older relatives who may not be online. Where you can, choose video chat - it is the closest experience to face-to-face interaction.
2. Take your clubs online
Where you cannot keep your regular social dates, book a group call. Whether it is a weekly coffee with friends, a book club or support group, fix a time as you would normally and all log on.
3. Choose your words wisely
If you are feeling worried and anxious, talk to your loved ones about it. Bottling it up will lead to greater feelings of anxiety.
However, try not to impose your fears onto others. Where you can, take the opportunity to be positive and share a joke to lift others’ spirits, particularly when you are speaking to people in at-risk groups. If they want to talk about their concerns, just listen. You do not need to come up with a solution, just be there and try not to be dismissive.
4. Spend time with a pet
When you are spending increased amounts of time at home, our furry friends provide a wonderful way to keep connected.
Research has shown that spending time with animals is beneficial to our mental wellbeing. Interact with your pet regularly to boost your mood.
However, if you do develop coronavirus symptoms, WHO guidelines advise avoiding close contact with your pets during this time.
5. Be kind
If there are people in your community who are vulnerable, let them know you are thinking of them. Drop a note through your neighbors’ doors with your contact information so they can call you if there is anything they need.
There is a postcard template you can fill in to show your neighbors you are there for them. Becky Wass from the UK created the print-at-home postcard while thinking of ways she could help.
“I do think in times like this everybody wants to do something to help, and this postcard just makes that a little bit easier,” Becky explains.
6. Get online
Join an online community. There is a forum or social media group for pretty much anything! From large forums like Mumsnet to local community Facebook groups, join active communities that are in line with your interests and make new connections.
7. Start an online course
Studying from home is becoming increasingly popular. Take a look at some of the courses you can sign up for, whether it is a professional qualification or a leisure activity like creative writing or a self-development course.
8. Look after yourself
With our social lives taking a backseat, this is an opportunity to get comfortable in your own company. Modern living has many of us rushing from one thing to the next, always ‘on’ 24/7. Now you can take a step back and slow down.
Dedicate some time to things you enjoy. Treat yourself to a relaxing bath, an online yoga class or work your way through the books on your must-read list. Taking some time just for you will allow you to develop a deeper connection with yourself and improve your relationships with others.
You can do this
This is an uncertain time and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and like you want to retreat and hide away from the world.
Remember you are not alone. We are all in this together. Keep talking to your friends and family, maintain as much of a routine as you can, and remember to take some time out for self-care.
If you or a loved one is feeling anxious or stressed, one of Marisa Peer’s relaxing hypnosis audios can help. We recommend Perfect Relaxation to dramatically reduce stress and instill a sense of calm.