How to Stay Connected During Self-Isolation
A strict practice of social distancing is the most effective thing we can do to help slow the spread of the virus and make it possible for our heroic healthcare workers to save lives. But there’s no doubt this approach is taking its toll on many important factors of well-being. To make sure we can endure and effectively beat this virus, it’s so important that we find ways to stay fit and healthy in all aspects of our lives.
Perhaps the most salient emotional and mental stress this crisis has produced comes from the sudden absence of nearly all social interaction in our lives. Not being able to see one another face-to-face and share experiences produces a tremendous sense of isolation that can significantly impact emotional and mental health.
A big reason for this is that without this interaction, we feel disconnected to the world around us, which produces all sorts of anxiety. As a result, along with strengthening your approach to spending so much time alone by developing your relationship to yourself, it’s also important to also find ways to connect with others.
How to Connect During Self-Isolation
Fortunately, we live in a time where technology gives us a chance to do this. It’s true that digital interaction doesn’t replace in-person, but it’s something. We shouldn’t discount it but rather embrace it.
Most of what you can do can be accomplished with a basic internet connection. But now that we’re relying on the internet for so much more, it’s important to have the best internet connection in your area, so that you can take full advantage of the ways it can bring us together.
If you’re unsure of why it’s so important, here are some key ways that you can stay connected during the self-isolation required to fight this pandemic.
Keep Up a Social Calendar
One of the things we miss most during this crisis is the ability to regularly see the people with whom we enjoy spending time. It ensures a steady diet of social interaction that balances the time you spend on your own and helps contribute to a more stable mental state.
While fighting through this crisis, though, this is all gone. But we can bring it back by making an extra effort to ensure we spend time with one another.
Consider making some plans in advance with friends or family members to meet regularly via video chat. Maybe start watching the same television show or reading the same book, and then use the time you’ve set aside to talk about it. Another option is to do a game night or a trivia session. But there are many more things you can do; Just make it some sort of an event so that you have a reason to meet.
This may feel a bit forced, especially for those used to a more spontaneous social life, but that’s kind of the point.
As we move through this crisis, trapped in our homes, time distorts, and it’s really easy to slip into further isolation. Planning group activities builds social interaction into our life and makes sure you get it.
In this unique situation, this can have a profound impact on your outlook on life and your sense of connectedness that is so important to mental and emotional well-being.
Use Social Media (In Moderation)
This is a potentially controversial recommendation to make because we all know that too much social media can sometimes have a negative impact on mental health, but used in moderation, it can be a helpful way to stay connected to people.
Maybe use this time to finally go through your accounts and personalize them a bit more. You can tailor your news feeds so that only certain people will show up, and this can help you avoid people in your networks who are posting misinformation or negativity, neither of which is doing anything to help us in this crisis.
In this way, you can turn social media into a platform for good news, positivity, and interaction. Maybe get a bit more active and start commenting and sharing on content you find to be useful or interesting in this time period. The more visible you are, the more likely it is you’ll get into a conversation on the web, which can be a fun way to interact and connect with someone.
Again, social media, like video chatting, can only be so “social,” but when used in a beneficial way, it can be a quite useful way to stay connected during this crisis.
Moderate Your News Intake
It’s important to stay up on the news because knowing what’s going on in the world and being able to talk about it intelligently with people in your life will certainly help you feel connected. The news is also our best source for the latest guidelines and recommendations for containing the virus.
However, too much news can take things the other direction. This is because there’s not a lot of good news out there, and one can easily fall into a pattern of negative thinking that is only going to exacerbate the effects of self-isolation.
As a result, take in only the news you need to understand the situation in a balanced and educated way, and spend the rest of your time doing something that is going to bring more positivity into your life. This will help you avoid feeling the desperation of the situation and allowing that to isolate you even further.
Contact People Regularly
One last thing you can do is to use this time to get in touch with your wider social network. We all have relationships from past experiences that, while still important, feature less prominently in our current lives.
Make a point to contact these people and catch-up. A 45-minute conversation with an old friend can produce a tremendous sense of connection. It’s an opportunity to share in the struggle of the moment while temporarily reliving past joy.
The challenges we face are not likely to subside anytime soon. Say strong, be patient, and reach out to others so that we neve forget that no one is in this alone.
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