The pandemic and the resulting recession brought on a host of challenges that have negatively affected many people’s mental health and aggravated the condition of those who have been suffering for many years. Countless people experience different kinds of grief. From a loss of income to losing loved ones to COVID-19, many people deal with challenges they might not have seen coming. There is no doubt we are undergoing a collective trauma and a crisis of global and epic proportions.
Why stay connected?
Now more than ever, we need support from the people in our lives; people who love us and have our backs. Studies show that people who have consistent social contact and support can fight depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation. Those who lack support from others have the opposite effect. We all need someone to talk to, and the challenges of COVID-19 have compounded that need.
But there’s also no denying that staying connected with our loved ones is a challenge. It already was before the pandemic—we have jobs, kids, and other responsibilities, and the stay-at-home orders didn’t make it any easier. Another barrier to staying connected is the fact that asking for help is difficult. Admitting we need help means relinquishing control over our situation and accepting our vulnerability. Even for seemingly well-adjusted adults, asking for help can be a challenge.
The good news is we can take it one day at a time. Here are a few simple ideas for staying connected with your friends and loved ones during the coronavirus crisis.
Take full advantage of technology.
Staying connected through messaging and video apps is a given. Schedule video calls with your friends and family; don’t just call out of the blue. Assume that everyone else is just as busy as you and need a heads-up if you want to chat for updates.
Technology is not only good for communication; you can also use it for entertainment. Use apps like Netflix Party, which allows users to synchronize their playback. Collaborate on Spotify playlists together—give each other the chance to share some of your favorite songs and artists.
You can also organize a digital game night. Regular game nights are off the table for now, but that doesn’t mean you and your friends can’t gather for a night of charades, Pictionary, and name-that-tune. You can even come up with different themes to make the night more enjoyable. Have your friends take turns hosting.
Get fit together.
Studies show that working out in a group setting is much more beneficial than doing it alone. Group exercise participants showed more significant improvements compared to participants who worked out alone. It shows that other people’s encouragement and support are vital to achieving positive results in our lives.
Schedule a group video workout with your friends and make the routines different each session. Explore different types of group exercise you can do together—dance workouts, yoga, Zumba, aerobics, hip-hop class, Crossfit. The possibilities are endless. You can even get your kids to join—it can be a moment to show them that working out can be fun and that achieving our goals is possible when we have positive emotional support from the people in our lives.
The pandemic is a great time to level up your skills and knowledge. So, invite your friends to attend some classes with you. You can all take certificate courses in fields you always found interesting but never had the time to pursue. And through these courses, you can meet them a few times a week or month.
If you can’t find on-campus courses, you can explore online learning instead. Some ways you and your friends can learn together online include:
- Learning a new language
- Coming up with new recipes
- Learning how to garden or take care of houseplants
- Trying out new makeup techniques and hairstyles
- Learning how to fix things around the house
Attend a virtual class, tour, or event.
Many local attractions, museums, and other entertainment companies have found creative ways to share what they have to offer with consumers through digital means. Many artists hold digital concerts and online meet-and-greets, while some zoos and museums now offer digital tours.
Many experts also offer interesting seminars online. Called webinars, these digital classes allow consumers to learn about specific topics and fields through an interactive video chat. What are you and your friends’ common interests? Explore what you all find interesting and attend them together.
Staying connected doesn’t just happen; it takes time, effort, and a lot of being intentional. You can’t expect to stay connected with people if you don’t work for it. The lockdowns don’t need to get in the way of our relationships; we only need to get creative with technology and allow it to help us foster healthy and lasting connections.