Social distancing due to the COVID-19 outbreak has caused many changes to daily routines. Life can feel uncertain right now, particularly when things seem to be changing so rapidly. Especially if you are used to frequent human interaction, this new reality can create feelings of loneliness, seclusion, and isolation. Managing your mental health is important during these uncertain times, and keeping connected to loved ones is an important tool for navigating this new environment. Here are five ways to stay connected to family and friends during social distancing.
During a time like this, many people can feel the impacts of spending time by themselves or with less company than usual. Reach out to the people you care about via text, email, or phone call. Reconnect with a friend or family member you haven't talked to in a while or check in on a friend who might be feeling especially isolated. If you have a family member or friend who is in an at-risk group, check in with how they are doing. Even just saying hello can make someone’s day, and brighten yours as well.
Social media can be a great tool to stay connected, but endless scrolling through social media platforms while social distancing could potentially increase anxiety, worry, and feelings of loneliness. It can help to approach your usage with more intention. One way is to go back to the “social” aspect of “social media.” Rather than getting sucked into scrolling through your entire feed without meaningfully engaging, pick a couple of people you’d like to check in on. Take time to scroll through their posts and leave a few comments.
Video chatting technology is a great way to stay connected with friends and family. Dr. Elizabeth Dorrance Hall explains that “video chat allows us to see the other person’s nonverbal behaviors, which alerts us to their mood and allows for clear, more effective communication. In times where people are socially isolated, rich nonverbal cues can be even more important because they provide a feeling of ‘presence’ that audio-only phone calls lack.” Schedule times to check in with your loved ones and stick to those meeting times. Ask your friends how they are doing, but also don’t feel pressure to talk about the news. Just seeing a friend or family member’s face and talking with them can help bring some sense of normalcy back into our daily routines and help maintain relationships.
Technology is powerful, and there are many different ways it can be used to create connection, even from a physical distance. Watch a movie or TV show at the same time as friends and text each other while you are watching. Have video dinner dates with friends and family. Form a book club or discussion group about a topic you find interesting, and hold your meeting via social media and video-chatting technology. Call or video chat a friend while you are exercising or going on a walk, and schedule virtual exercise sessions with each other.
Since social distancing began, companies have been implementing solutions to provide content and connection for consumers. If there are activities or events that are part of your normal day, looking for digital alternatives will allow you to stay connected to your passions and routine. Stream a live gym class, livestream a concert, or virtually tour a museum. There are increasingly more digital ways to continue every day activities, and doing so can help ease feelings of isolation or unwanted solitude.
The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Always consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.
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