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This time of quarantine is presenting a unique problem. On the one hand, it is important that each of us does our part to slow the spread of COVID-19, which means sheltering-at-home, avoiding large gatherings, and steering clear of public places. On the other hand, we humans are social creatures and in times of high stress (such as a global health pandemic), it becomes increasingly important that we have a community around us for support. Thus, the unique problem we are currently facing is… how do we remain socially and emotionally connected during times of physical isolation?

With the intention of creating solutions to this problem, here are Six Ways to Stay Connected During Social Isolation. Although these times are unprecedented and the future is uncertain, humans remain as adaptable and resilient as ever. This means that now is a great time to get creative and find new ways to socially connect to the people you love the most. 

  1. Call someone. This may seem obvious or even silly, but picking up the phone and calling someone is one of the best (and let’s face it, simplest) ways to interact right now. Hearing another person’s voice, laughter, and tonal expressions will make you feel much more connected to them than you would through a text message exchange. Plus, you’re not the only one in social isolation and you never know who might benefit from receiving a call.

  2. Have virtual hangouts. There has never been an easier, or more necessary, time to connect with people online. Zoom, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, and FaceTime all make it easy for you to set up a video chat and see your friends’ and family’s beautiful faces. Missing your Wednesday morning coffee and chat sesh with your BFF? Set one up via video chat instead. Want to meet your friends for happy hour or a workout? Do it, only this time it’s online. Be creative, but be careful not to overschedule yourself and make your hangouts feel like another chore to do.

  3. Use social media, and use it wisely. While studies show that endless scrolling can lead to increased feelings of loneliness, (something we definitely don’t want to encourage right now), using social media platforms intentionally can be a great way to connect with others. Just be sure to use these spaces, Facebook and Instagram for example, actively and not passively.  Use your time to post, share, comment, and send messages, and remember to log off after a set amount of time each day.

  4. Write someone a letter. What is more pleasantly surprising than receiving a handwritten letter in the mail? Writing is a great creative outlet and takes time to do well, so why not use this time to write to someone, or someones, in your life? As an added bonus, you just might get a response.

  5. Take advantage of online offerings. Many previously scheduled events, conferences, religious services, and concerts are currently being offered online. There are also numerous opportunities to attend webinars and take online classes. Take advantage of what is being offered as a way to boost your own mood and also as a way to support the work others are doing. Participating in an online community is a great way to feel less alone and most of these events are being offered at a very affordable (or even free) rate. 

  6. Organize a family group chat. Many of us are missing our families more than ever right now. Challenging times have the ability to remind us of who we love the most and all of the reasons why. There are numerous messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Slack, that make it easy to set up a group chat with multiple people. Bring your family together by creating a place to share photos, videos, funny memes, stories, and updates.

As you can see, there are many ways to connect with friends and family right now. But with all of this in mind, don’t let creating connection be an added source of stress for you. If you are doing fine, if you are keeping busy and staying sane, if you don’t like video conferencing and don’t sense any real danger of becoming so lonely you are unable to cope, then just hang tight and keep doing you. Each of us requires different amounts of social interaction and the above ideas are meant as a helpful guide, not another bullet point on your to-do list.

(Note: this article appeared on Elephant Journal April 24, 2020)