Think about all the big things in life. Your home, your family, your friends… and then think about how drastically things have changed in relation to all those things in the last few weeks thanks to the impact of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has completely altered the world as we know it. Nights out in good company are no longer the norm. Your home may have become your workplace and perhaps also a school. Your family relationships may have changed beyond anything you ever imagined.
So how can you stay connected and more importantly, stay sane? Even the most socially introverted of us still need social interaction sometimes – here are some ideas to help you cultivate your relationships, and perhaps even build some new ones too:
1. Strengthen bonds at home
If you’re used to being out and about, all day everyday confinement might feel like a massive adjustment. Instead of focusing on what you’re missing out on, try and think about the positive opportunities instead. Maybe there are those ‘I’ll do it next week’ activities that have been hanging around for years you could actually get done, working together. Perhaps there is a board game languishing in a cupboard that might provide many evenings of fun, interactive entertainment for you and your family. You could even design your own!
2. Write for real
When is the last time you actually handwrote a letter and posted it to someone? When is the last time you received a letter like that yourself? You might remember the feeling of an envelope with a familiar scrawl hitting the doormat, or perhaps you’ve never experienced it – but there’s a certain kind of excitement that comes along with receiving a letter that hard to explain. Why not give it a try and find out how it feels for yourself as you stay in touch old-school style.
3. Reach out to others
Have you ever had one of those moments where you’re feeling a bit down, and then someone calls or texts unexpectedly and brightens your whole day? Letting people know you’re thinking about them can be a really powerful tool for fighting the feelings of depression and anxiety that can be triggered by social isolation, particularly for those who were already dealing with it. Keep it light and breezy, don’t mention anything that may make anxiety worse – and let them know it’s ok not to respond unless they want to.
4. Learn something new
There is a whole range of online training available out there, whatever you’re interested in. Many classes that were previously an in-person experience have now set up a virtual option instead. Take your mind off everything coronavirus and focus on learning something new. You’ll be able to connect with other people who have a passion for the same things you do, and gain new skills and qualifications at the same time.
5. Take community online
You may not be able to interact in person with your local community right now, but there’s usually an online option instead. Many local areas have Facebook groups, specific hashtags on social media, or other forums set up that can help you stay engaged with your local area, even if you’re not leaving the house at all. There are also lots of cultural community groups to join in with, locally and worldwide. Search for whatever you’re interested in or join in with online activities that may inspire social chat alongside them.
6. Cherish your own company
There is a difference between solitude and loneliness. Solitude is a positive, constructive way of engaging with yourself, and learning how to love spending time on your own is really important in order to avoid feeling preoccupied with negative thoughts. Try doing something that helps you understand how you’re feeling, in a positive way. Study new skills, complete a puzzle, or go for a walk on your own – there are lots of options for solo activities that can boost your mood, meaning you can help spread positivity and feel better when you connect with others too.