"Why don't you blog about it?"
- So we did!
I think we all know the drill by now. After almost a year of surviving a global pandemic, we have learned to adjust to the new norms of social distancing, limited gatherings, sanitizing everything, and wearing masks. And while these are all important for slowing the spread of COVID-19, it is also important to recognize the negative impact that isolating behaviors can have on mental health. A report from the American Psychological Association noted that social isolation, especially over long periods of time can lead to loneliness, increased levels of stress, poor sleep quality, anxiety, and depression. Loneliness over time can also lower immune system functioning, and other adverse health outcomes. In an effort to minimize the erosive effects that isolation can have as the global pandemic stretches on, we may have to be a little more creative in the ways that we choose to connect with each other. The world is changing, and that simply means that we have to change with it. Here are three ways that each of us can curb loneliness and stay connected in a world of social distancing:
Phone a Friend
One of the unique aspects of living through a global pandemic, is that to some degree we are all experiencing this together. Whether you’re working from home, taking care of kids who attend school virtually, or minimizing contact with the public for health reasons, you may find that keeping in contact with friends and family requires some creative effort. It may even fall lower on the priority list. But you may be surprised at the benefits taking just five to ten minutes to talk with a loved one, over FaceTime, or Zoom or by other means. When we are isolated, it can be easy to think that we are the only ones feeling what we are feeling. It can feel as though everyone else has it together, and we are the only ones struggling. By taking a chance and opening up to someone about the challenges you are facing, it’s likely that their experience will mirror yours in some way. This crisis is still ongoing and we are all handling it in the ways we know best.
Join a Facebook Group or Community
If you were not aware before, Facebook has public and private groups that you can join for just about anything. There are groups for specific interests and hobbies, groups that discuss popular television shows, groups for singles, men, women, groups for those who want to advance in their career, and the list goes on! Some of these groups have thousands of members and host weekly activities, discussions, and virtual meet-ups. Whatever your interests are, there is probably a Facebook group for you! Though it is not the same as meeting people in person, these are often great forums for community, connection, and learning new things. If you don’t like Facebook, there is also an app called Meetup which used to be for in-person gatherings based on interests, but many of these groups have transitioned to virtual meetings.
Host a Watch Party
Many streaming platforms have introduced features that allow you to stream movies and television shows simultaneously from separate locations. Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix have a “Watch Party” feature where you can invite other subscription holders to watch content with you at the same time. There is also a browser extension called “Sceener” which includes special features like video chatting, easy transitions between streaming services, and a feature that allows you to “pass the remote” to another user. For those who want to host a watch party for people who do not have paid accounts, you can host a watch party on Zoom by sharing your screen.