With a new wave of Covid-19 and stricter lockdown measures being reinforced, it’s more important than ever to find new and creative ways to stay connected to loved ones.
For those of us that live alone, work from home, are shielding, or without nearby family and friends to rely on, the months ahead could prove particularly difficult for both our mental and emotional health.
So how can we best engage with those closest to us?
Lockdown rules are constantly changing and it’s important to stay ahead of the game.
Often there’s advance notice of enforcements like a ban on households mixing, or a reduction in the number of people you can meet for exercise.
Maintain face-to-face contact whenever possible
Take advantage of the freedom we currently have. That could be by inviting a friend for exercise activity. Unless you’re shielding or at very high risk of becoming unwell with the virus, then it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of maintaining face-to-face contact whenever possible.
At the end of the day, we’re social creatures, and isolation can take its toll. Keep a mask at the ready if there’s any chance of being unable to maintain at least a two-metre distance.
Opt for video calls or pick up the telephone
Yes, it’s convenient to text or use internet-based messengers like WhatsApp to stay in touch. But studies show that speaking on the phone or with accompanying video helps us feel more emotionally connected to those with whom we are conversing. Tone of voice, facial expression, non-verbal clues and shared laughter all help to strengthen our relationships and ward off feelings of loneliness.
A phone call requires us to take time out of our day to focus on our friend. We pay more direct attention to the conversation, and we’re more likely to be present and in the moment. Quality over quantity of communication is key to nurturing our relationships.
Send thoughtful messages via post
It’s a fun project and makes others feel thought of – a real old-school way of staying in touch. Why not put together a care package or an activity box, or simply go for a handwritten letter. Even if we can’t physically be with one another, we can still show others they are in our thoughts. With travel restrictions still very much in place, this is particularly relevant for those with families based overseas.
Gift boxes work especially well with the grandkids! You could even send picture updates or create a personalised present online. Just remember to use your hand sanitiser after opening parcels!
Spend time in nature and reconnect with yourself
Okay, so technically this one isn’t a ‘social activity’ as such. But in terms of connection, there’s no better way of feeling more in touch with your own thoughts and needs than spending time outdoors.
Whether you’re remote working, on furlough, or currently looking for opportunities, use this time to reflect, find some quietness and really take stock of what’s important to you. It’s amazing how a global crisis can make us question our values, our purpose, how we want to live our lives, and the activities and relationships on which we place most importance.
Join a group class or event online with Zoom
Virtual life drawing, pub quizzes, sporting bootcamps, online book clubs, or even speed dating – online and virtual events have exploded since the beginning of the year. Online meeting host Zoom is particularly popular, and the app is easy to set up. You can either host or join a meeting, group or chat, allowing you to connect in real time with others from around the world for a shared interest or learning opportunity. For ideas, guidance and step-by-step instructions, visit zoom.com.
You can find ideas for getting involved by following persons of interest on Facebook or Instagram. Cook with Gordon Ramsey, work out with Joe Wicks, or listen to live readings of novels by the authors themselves.
We’re all looking forward to the day when life returns to ‘normal’. But for now we hope the above tides you over and makes your current situation a little more bearable.
We need to balance benefit with risk when it comes to our mental health and social isolation, while staying cautious and protecting others too. Let’s stop the spread together.
Until then, stay safe!
WORDS Leanne Hyland
This article has been reproduced by courtesy of The Fens magazine. Click here to view more of their articles.