How to Practice Physical Distancing, Not Social Distancing: Combatting Loneliness During Quarantine.
We’re at the point of isolation where it doesn’t matter anymore how long it’s been since we started living like this. “Bored” is no longer a sensation my brain recognizes and the mundane tasks we used to call “chores” and have to squeeze into our busy schedules are now the things our lives revolve around. Our social lives have become limited to whoever we share a space with and if you’re like me that means just yourself. This has gone on so long now that I don’t even remember what it was like to have plans, friends, or random run-ins- and to be quite frank I’d give anything for an awkward interaction with another person. Any person. It’s been so long since I’ve felt a face to face connection with anyone that I don’t even know how to miss it.
Loneliness, a lack of connection, a craving for conversation are all major enhancers of stress and anxiety. It can pull our focus and make us antsy which subsequently affects our workflow. The uncertainty of when we’re going to get to socialize again doesn’t help either.
Even if you’re accustomed to working remotely and not having co-workers to chat with on the regular, your social life has been drastically interrupted.
Yes, scheduling virtual get-togethers with your people is a must when you’re in social distancing mode — and a welcome distraction from being on lockdown for the next few weeks. But research suggests that scheduling activities in advance, even ones you’re looking forward to, can take away from how fun they are by making them feel like yet another chore on your to-do list so we wanted to take that into consideration when crafting this list of ways to connect with people while in isolation and working remotely.
Pick Up The Phone.
Perhaps this goes without saying and you just rolled your eyes at me through your screen…. Or maybe you need to hear it.
It can be easy to start to feel comfortable in our isolation but it’s so important to reach out and have contact with people, regardless of whether you feel the need or not. It’s also very important that we check in with our friends and family members who may be even more isolated then we are. Being socially isolated affects us all differently. Some of us are thriving- baking bread, reading books, feeling cozy- while others are feeling the walls start to close in. No matter how cozied up you’re feeling currently, the negative feelings and experiences associated with prolonged isolation will eventually come for us all.
I saw this great tip on Instagram for those of you who may be uncomfortable cold calling people. This girl would scroll to random time in her photo album on her phone and look for the next photo of her with a friend. She would send that photo to a friend and say how much she missed this time together. This would initiate a conversation that always led to them checking in with each other- if the conversation flowed via text they would move it to a phone or facetime call.
So to sum up- call or text your friends, call or text your parents, call or text your grandparents, call or text your co-worker. No matter who you choose to reach out to, you both will be better for it.
Start A Club (Book Or Otherwise).
At this point in the isolation process, I am TIRED OF TALKING ABOUT BEING IN ISOLATION, but the hard truth is, none of us have experienced much else other than being stuck at home and watching the news. It’s getting monotonous and to be quite frank- it’s bleak. A great way to change up the conversation is to create a new shared experience for you and your friends and family.
Starting a little virtual club of sorts is a great way to do that. An obvious one is a book club- pick a fun, lighthearted read you can either get sent to you via Amazon (or maybe you can support a local bookstore in your area?!) and get reading. This is also a great way to set an attainable weekly goal for yourself. It can feel really good to have something to work towards.
Another fun idea I saw online was a group of girls started an online wine tasting club. They chose a selection of easy to find wines and used the same Master sommelier tasting sheet (like this guy) to figure it out. Get creative with it!
Take In A Concert.
It’s hard to say when we will be able to all gather for a concert or performance again, which as an avid live performance attender that notion really hits hard. One silver lining is that almost every artist out there has been gifting us with intimate live streams straight from their living rooms. It’s not the same as hearing them in person, but it has its own special sort of energy. Most of them are scheduled a few days in advance so it also gives you something to look forward to. You can make an event out of it. Plan a meal, spend time preparing it. Make a fun at home cocktail and unwind from your day with some of your favorite music performed in a way you’ve never heard before.
Write A Letter.This is a great way to unplug from your screen but still feel like you’re connecting! Send some snail mail! Not only will you have fun writing it, but it will without a doubt make the day of whoever is on the receiving end. It’s also a good excuse to practice the dying art of cursive writing.
Schedule Regular Happy Hours.One thing a lot of us are missing right now is social time with our co-workers. It’s such an integral part of office culture and now with us living on zoom and slack, it really limits our casual interactions. Working remotely can also come with a lot of bad habits, like working too much. Scheduling a happy hour zoom call where you can catch up with your team in a social way is a great way to mark the end of a day or week. If you are a freelancer or work for a small team, create happy hour times with any friends! They don’t have to be colleagues. Spend some virtual time with the people who bring you the most joy!
This sucks, and that’s okay. It has interrupted our lives, it’s scary, it’s annoying, it’s messed up the economy, it’s caused a ton of uncertainty and stress and it’s okay to say it. Being positive is great, but it’s also important to acknowledge how you’re feeling and not to suppress it, that only will cause more stress, more anxiety, and more risk of depression. Get it out. Find a friend (who is 100% feeling the same way you are) and vent. Set aside a certain amount of time (10 minutes, sounds good, yeah?) and just get it all out. Say it all and then move on. Getting it all off your chest will not only feel like a great release but it will also help you feel connected to your friend who you’ve vented with. It will remind you you’re not alone in your feelings, and that we are all collectively in a state of global uncertainty.
Being socially isolated for any amount of time is no cakewalk, and it’s so important to not only check in with others but check in yourself. What are you missing right now? What do you need? Honor these feelings as best you can under the current restrictions we have to follow. How are you socializing right now? Let us know in the comments, or reach out and connect with us! We are always available to chat at firstname.lastname@example.org