As countries across the globe are enacting necessary levels of social distancing due to COVID-19—maintaining your sense of connection with others is essential to your mental wellbeing during this unfamiliar time.
Human beings thrive when we feel connected to others—in fact, community is connection. It’s crucial to our quality of life because it makes us feel:
A sense of belonging—just like the human need for shelter and food, feeling that you belong is a key driver of being able to cope with challenges, spurs motivation, and creates a sense of safety.
Supported—having a network of family or friends you can lean on in times of uncertainty is so important to help alleviate tension and know that you are not alone.
Purposeful—when you feel you are part of something bigger than yourself it paves the way for feeling a sense of purpose since you can now offer your support and assistance to others.
Send a Group Email or Text Message (Emojis Encouraged)
Some say that emailing and text messages lack intonation and personality—but they’re still a great way to reach out, check in on others, and make someone smile. Plus, emojis, GIFs and links to helpful articles can express feelings, emotions, and are a great way to provide helpful resources to others in your social network.
Make a Phone Call, Hear Someone’s Voice
Texting and emailing have, to a large degree, replaced the need for making phone calls these days. Now’s your chance to buck the trend, make a call, and hear the voice of someone you love. And of course, these can take place over other platforms like Facetime and Skype in an audio-only format—perfect if you’re wanting to reach out to people located in other countries.
Video Calls—As Good As Real Life (Almost)
Video calls using platforms like Facetime, Zoom or Skype provide a window into your world and theirs, can bring multiple people together at once, and enable as close to a “live” experience as possible. Connection over these mediums enables you to experience the full gamut of social cues like voice intonation, emotional expression, and body language.
Help a Neighbor
Building a community can literally happen on your doorstep too. Offer assistance to your neighbors, leave a note on their door to check in on them and ask them what they need right now. You’ll not only feel that sense of purpose but it’s also likely to create a ripple effect of kindness.
Donate If You Can
If you are in a position to donate your time, expertise, money or food to others (from a distance at this time) who are in need it has the beautiful kickback of leaving you feeling connected to the greater good as well as purposeful. And even though acts of kindness directly benefit the well-being of the recipient, they also create a “helper's high” that benefits the giver’s self-esteem and self-worth. Win, win!
Join Supportive Online Interest Groups
Stay connected and participate in your existing social networks and interest groups. When you can connect with like-minded people who hold similar values to you, it reduces isolation and increases belonging. Both of which we desperately need right now!
Being deprived of social connection can create more stress during an already difficult time. And while social distancing is certainly challenging, it doesn’t change how imperative it is to stay connected, and show your empathy and care for others—even if it is through a hugging emoji rather than a real one (for now).