Are you socially distancing from older family members? Perhaps you’re geographically separated from family and not able to visit with them due to quarantine issues. Maybe you’ve been asked to work from home or you’ve chosen to self-quarantine to mitigate the possible risk of exposure in your community.
Whatever the circumstances, it is likely that you will find yourself experiencing feelings of isolation while engaging in the process of social distancing. And while these practices are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is important that you work to find ways to decrease your feelings of social isolation.
Ways to Stay Emotionally Connected
Emotional connectedness is a cornerstone of healthy human interactions. By our very nature, we are social beings. Maintaining a sense of emotional connection can feel nearly impossible when you’re tasked with self-quaraniting and social distancing. The good news is that there are tangible steps that you can take to help increase your sense of emotional connection.
Here are a few therapist-approved tips the next time you’re feeling lonely or disconnected:
- Use the Mail
Yes, it sometimes feels like a bit of an outdated mode of communication but come on, who doesn’t love to get a letter in the mail? You can also get some cute vintage postcards (Etsy has some fun ones and, bonus, you’d be supporting a small business or craftsperson in the process!). Have some fun sending quick messages to friends and family during this unfun period.
- Schedule Virtual Dates
This one is a no-brainer, right? Most of us have the ability to connect via smart phones and video calls — so use it! Play around and get creative with your virtual dates. You can watch TV and movies (there’s even the new Netflix Party, which allows you to sync your viewing with friends), play a board game,or even cook a meal together.
- Join a Virtual Book Club
You’re quarantined with nowhere to go? It’s a great time to read a book. And who doesn’t love to talk about what they’re reading? Consider organizing a Virtual Book Club with friends or check out a few that already exist (like Oprah’s Book Club or Tolstoy Together from A Public Space)!
- Get Some Support
Whether it’s your family, friends, co-workers, or therapist, share with others how you’re feeling and check in with them, too! We can still create community by sharing virtually. For folks managing symptoms while recovering from addiction, the twelve-step community can be a necessary and helpful tool. If you’ve depended on those supports in the past, considering attending a virtual meeting.
- Schedule a Work Meeting
Who among us hasn’t complained about a meeting that could have been an email? Well, under quarantine and work from home situations, consider taking the opposite approach and look for opportunities to connect via audio and video calls with co-workers, rather than just firing off another Slack message.
- Have a Virtual Lunch with a Coworker
Just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you can’t share a lunch date. Consider scheduling a video lunch with your colleagues to recreate some aspects of your normal workday routine.
- Be Smart About Social Media
Use social media, but be smart about how you’re using it. If you’re using social media as your only form of social connection, then you might end up finding yourself feeling especially isolated. Try to work on limiting your exposure to negativity and, instead, work on finding uplifting spaces with a sense of community (Check out Talkspace’s Facebook Support Group)
Being socially distanced doesn’t mean you can’t help support important causes. There are tons of distance-based volunteer options available. You can also volunteer for a state, local, or national political campaign and make telephone calls or send texts in support of a candidate or issue that is important to you.
Although it can be hard to find ways to duplicate face-to-face connections in our current, or future, quarantine situation, consider trying out one or two of the ideas listed above. If your sense of social isolation becomes too uncomfortable, remember that your mental health needs don’t have to go unmet just because you’re socially distancing. Consider using Talkspace to speak to a licensed mental health professional who can provide support while you navigate the difficulties of social distancing.