Social distancing is a new reality for us. There is a lot to learn about this new way of being. Simply staying socially connected can become a major challenge. As an extrovert, I have been craving social get-togethers, going out to eat with friends, big family gatherings, and even going to work to be around my coworkers. I miss my people and the struggle is real!
We are all social beings and need social engagement to help us feel connected to the world around us. These connections help us to not only feel less lonely, but also help with our overall mental health and well-being. I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things I have been trying to do as well as some ideas on how to stay socially connected and grounded during these difficult times.
Reach Out for Conversation
When it comes to social distancing, reaching out to friends and family can be as simple as sending a text or meme, or as involved as calling or video chatting with a group of friends. This is a great time to catch up with friends that you haven’t talked to in a while, reconnect about cherished memories you had together, or just to check in to see how they are feeling. We are all going through this pandemic together and everyone can use the support of people we care about. Writing a letter or post card to loved ones can also be a way to connect from afar. I know that, for me, the constant memes and videos sent between my friends and I are truly helping me get through these long quarantine days because they make me laugh, feel cared about, and know I have support.
My best friend and I have set up daily texts and calls or facetime (based on the need of the day) to help us stay connected. I also plan on reaching out to friends for dinner dates via video chat and hopefully connect in new ways. The other day I even did a Facetime call with a group of childhood friends and it felt so refreshing and fun! This is the time to get creative about how we socially connect and make sure we are maintaining our relationships.
Have Fun (Together)
Luckily, thanks to social media and apps, there are fun ways to still hang out with friends and enjoy time together, beyond Facetime or Zoom, even when socially distancing. There are various apps where you can play games with multiple people (ex. “Words With Friends”, “Draw Something”, GamePigeon, Houseparty). My friends and I have been playing “ScrabbleGO” and I have found that I enjoy the game as well as enjoying using my brain in a different way. It is also possible to watch a show, video, or a movie together with friends using Netflix Party, Rabbit, and other apps or websites.
Musical artists are posting their concerts on live social media, and fitness studios and instructors even have workout classes live online for you to follow. A friend and I did a live dance class on Instagram the other day from the Debbie Allen dance studio. There are also museums that are showcasing their exhibits for people to enjoy online. People are also taking this time to do book clubs and converse about interesting topics. These are experiences you can have individually but share together when you get a chance to chat about them later. I will share some links below that have even more fun ways to connect using various apps, websites, and social media outlets.
Be kind to yourself, these are tough times we are all going through. If you find yourself getting frustrated, sad, or overwhelmed, remind yourself you are not alone. It’s okay to feel this way, and treat yourself as you would treat a friend who is struggling. Kind words and supportive thoughts go a long way with social distancing. This compassion can also be shown to others in your life, when you see that they are getting impatient or frustrated, try to show empathy and understanding for the challenges that we are facing as a whole. There are self-compassion meditations and exercises I have linked below for your exploration of this topic.
Tips to Stay Grounded During Social Distancing
At the end of the day, this is a difficult time. There is only so much you can do with others, so it is important to take care of yourselves and work on staying grounded in the present moment. Here are some things I have found helpful:
- Structure your day
- Maintain a sleep schedule, especially during the weekdays
- Accomplish at least one task around the house
- Try cooking something new
- Incorporate movement (ex. live fitness classes online, walk daily)
- Practice gratitude by saying (out loud) a few things that you are grateful for and what you are proud doing each day
Final Thoughts About Social Distancing
This is a hard time for many due to financial instability, social isolation, lack of structure/consistency, emotional instability, and general uncertainty. One silver lining is that we truly are all in this together. Everyone is being impacted in one or more ways by this pandemic. It is important to be kind to ourselves, be mindful of our feelings, and recognize that we are all struggling in some way (you are not alone!). There is hope and we have one another to rely on.
I hope this article can help you see that there are ways we can stay connected, be there for one another, and prove to ourselves that connection and compassion can get us through this challenging time in our lives.
Some helpful Links:
40 Ways to Stay Social
Apps to Socially Connect
Staying Virtually Connected to Friends
Virtual Tours of Parks, Cities, and Museums
Self-compassion Information, Meditation, and Exercise