For almost a year, we have been living in a pandemic of social isolation due to COVID-19. Genuine human connection plays a vital role in our emotional and physical health and overall well-being. Social connection has been shown to lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and actually improve our immune systems. Resilience, the ability to bounce back, is strengthened through connections and the support around you. Staying connected and interacting with others at this time is more important than ever. If we neglect our innate need to connect, we quite literally put our health at risk. Luckily, we live in a time in which technological advances have provided more ways than ever to stay connected, virtually.
15 Ways to Stay Connected During COVID:
1. Pick up the phone. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Call family, reconnect.
2. Zoom/Skype. Plan a weekly Zoom or Skype call with family or friends.
3. Have a socially distanced Happy Hour. Connect with neighbors, pull out your lawn chairs, sit socially distanced and chat with one another.
4. Play online games with friends. This is a great way to stay connected and even create a new community of support.
5. Plan a virtual tour of a zoo or museum. Many zoos and museums offer virtual tours with friends or family. Although the experience is not the same as being there in person, this is still a great way to “get out” of the house and experience something new.
6. Start an online book club! Plan weekly meetings.
7. Write a letter. Yes, physically, with a pen and paper, write a letter. Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a letter from a loved one or someone they haven’t spoken to in awhile?
8. Check out Facebook groups. There are many Facebook groups dedicated to providing support and helping build and maintain connections during this time of social isolation.
9. Attend live virtual concerts! Have some fun!
10. Take an acting class, virtually. Express yourself, try something new and connect with others. This is a great way to meet people, make new connections and have fun!
11. Order a Master Peace Box. This self-care monthly art box is delivered to your doorstep. “Create more and stress less,” with this monthly art subscription box and virtual workshops. Michael Gallagher, the founder of HeARTbreak Studios, offers this monthly box that incorporates mindfulness, meditation, art and other activities designed to help you stay grounded and connected during this time. Each month there is a group meeting led by professionals around the globe. A Zoom link is included and groups are recorded so you can go back and learn time and time again. Find it at MasterPeaceBox.com.
12. Stay active! There are online communities committed to helping people connect and stay physically active during the pandemic. These groups meet virtually and allow individuals with similar goals to connect and support one another. https://blog.zencare.co/virtual-groups-support-connection-mental-health-coronavirus/
13. Try the Calm app. This mindfulness app is a subscription service with a free-trial period.
14. Try the Wisdo App. This is a free app that helps connect people who are going through or have been through similar experiences. A great way to stay connected and support one another.
15. Check out the Psychology Today and Good Therapy Online Support Groups. Many therapists have created virtual groups to help support individuals through the pandemic. This is an incredible way to create new connections, to express yourself, receive support and to feel heard and understood. Many of these groups are donation-based or free of charge.
Remember, take care of yourself. Treat yourself and others with kindness, understanding and compassion. Helping others also helps us. Engage in random acts of kindness. Donate to a food pantry. Many organizations will pick up canned goods and donations from your doorstep. Although connecting with others may look different during this time, it is still possible. Reach out and try new things. Quarantine doesn’t have to equate to loneliness or being alone. With a little bit of effort, you may actually become connected like never before!
Brittney Henderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has a private practice in Westlake Village. She is offering Telehealth sessions at a reduced rate or free of charge to help support those struggling with mental health and stressors due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Contact her at 805.267.1869.