Connect during coronavirus
There's strong evidence to indicate that feeling close to and valued by other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world. Ideally, we need to connect face to face, but how can we connect during this time of social distancing? Here are some practical ideas to help you to do this.
Schedule times to speak to people over the phone to keep in touch. Texting and emails are great but it’s much more beneficial to our wellbeing to have a proper chat.
So, whether it’s colleagues or friends and family, make an extra effort now to pick up the phone and talk to people.
Video call someone
Video call using Skype, or apps such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
Seeing who you're talking to can help you feel more connected. Try it with a coffee or dinner with family or friends. Social gatherings over video are a great way of keeping in touch.
In work, use Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams video call functions too… just because our meetings are virtual, doesn’t mean we don’t need to see who we are meeting!
Chat with people
Make a bit of time for non-work chat as part of your interaction with colleagues. Working at home can be intense without the usual office chatter, so try to incorporate a bit of social within your interactions with colleagues.
Join online communities
Keep in touch with others outside of your usual network; Facebook groups, such as the LiveWell Facebook Group, are a different way of connecting with like-minded people.
Be aware of information overload
While it's very important to connect with people, it may also be important for your wellbeing to disconnect a little more.
Connecting on social media may mean we sensationalise things, so be mindful of this. Try not to spend too much time engaging with sensationalist content. If you're reading and sharing posts or articles, use trusted sources like recognised news sites, such as the BBC.
As important as it is for your wellbeing, your posts may have an impact on the wellbeing of those you connect with on social media.
Watch your social media activity
It may be worth regularly assessing your social media activity. Are there particular accounts or people that are increasing your worry or anxiety? Consider unfollowing accounts or hashtags that cause you to feel anxious.
Although connection with people is vital, too much of a good thing isn’t good either. If you're living with others, you may find that ‘alone time’ is difficult to come by. If you're someone who needs time alone, make sure you find some time for yourself. Read, meditate, practice mindfulness, exercise: do something for you that helps you relax and recharge.
Taking control: staying connected
If you're not sure about how to stay connected, ask yourself these questions:
- what feels like the right amount of connection for you? Whether it is 3 connections a day, or once every other day, decide what is good for your mental health and make sure you plan to do this
- make a list of all the people you know who you could contact regularly. Organise into daily, weekly or ‘now and then’ contacts
- when is the best time for you to contact people by phone, video call or chat? Planning means it is more likely to happen
- what barriers are likely to get in the way? Think about how you might overcome these. For instance, if you find it difficult to phone people could you arrange for them to phone you instead?
- what’s not working? Do you need to disconnect from people, websites, accounts that aren’t helping your mental health? What can you do to make this happen? Unsubscribe? Unfollow? Hide news feeds? When are you going to do this?
- when is your ‘me time’? Where can you go? How are you going to make sure people give you the space you need?