It’s important to do your part during a national lockdown to keep everyone safe. Part of that duty is staying home and self-isolating, if that is possible for you. However, by definition, self-isolation can get a little lonely. Even though you know that by staying home you’re protecting your loved ones, it’s still hard to not visit with friends and family, especially during a stressful and uncertain global event like a pandemic.
Luckily, thanks to the technology of 2020, being alone doesn’t have to feel quite so lonely. The following are some tips for keeping a sense of community alive in a virtual setting - just because you have to stay home doesn’t mean you have to abandon the connections and activities you’ve always loved! It just takes some adjustments and some thinking outside the box.
1. Video calls:
FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts; whatever platform you prefer, the benefits of video calling are obvious. When you’re used to seeing friends or family in person, it can feel like you’ve lost something when you can only text or even call. It’s special to see someone’s face when you can, so it feels as natural as possible when you live across town (or across the country) and can’t get together for drinks every week anymore. Plus, there are conferencing features now that allow your whole squad to hop on together, so you don’t miss that group dynamic!
2. Keep a schedule:
If you used to go out for dinner with your partner on Wednesdays, or brunch with your friends on Saturdays, or Monday night visits with grandma - try to honor those traditions! There will be adjustments, obviously, but it’s still important to keep that regularity to your social life when you can. Light a candle and try a new recipe for date night now that you can’t go out to a fancy restaurant; set aside a two-hour Zoom call with your besties, order takeout, and jump into the gossip. Instead of visiting the nursing home (for good reason), give Grandma a call on Monday night so she knows you’re still thinking of her with all of this going on. It might feel a little different at first; but if you’re used to spending time with people with some regularity, it’s important to stay in touch as much as you can.
3. Meet new people:
This may sound counterintuitive, all things considered, but hear me out ~ maybe you’ve never thought to introduce yourself to your neighbor before, or you’ve only ever politely nodded at the UPS delivery man when you pass him in the lobby. Now that you’ll be seeing more of each other (or, rather, much less of other people in comparison), it might be nice to just say hello! If you’re feeling lonely, it is likely your neighbors are, too. Keeping all other safety precautions in mind, saying hello and checking in every now and then will remind you that you really aren’t as alone as you think… and it just may make someone else’s time in self-isolation easier as well!
4. Find a virtual activity to keep busy!:
If you’re missing going out and socializing, there are ways to approximate that from home! You can hop on a streaming service with your co-workers to watch the new movie every week (you never know who has a Hulu and who has Disney+) if you’re missing your office buddies and the experience of going to a movie theater for a new release. If you miss the weekly trip to a trendy bar, you can pull together a team of friends you don’t get to see too often and join an online trivia league to flex those brain muscles. If you’re lucky enough to have the new gaming console, you can connect with people online and play any number of collaborative and competitive games; even if you just have a phone or computer tablet at home, there are always classics like Words with Friends to keep alive that gamer’s spirit inside you.
5. Remember to take some personal time:
You may feel overwhelmed now that you have “so much free time” and so many people clamoring to get a phone call on the books with you. It’s hard saying no, especially now that you don’t have an “excuse” for not being available. It’s important to stay in touch, and this is also a great time to reconnect with those you’ve lost touch with in the past couple of years; but also be aware that it’s okay to take a night to just do a facemask and read a book by yourself. This will keep you from getting burned out, and the time you do spend with others during quarantine will be that much more enjoyable!
6. Don’t forget the people in this with you:
Whether you have roommates, a live-in partner, a child suddenly needing to be homeschooled, or parents summoning you back home to wait this out - after a couple weeks, you may be sick of looking at the same faces every day, but try to take a moment every now and again to appreciate what you have around you. You’re in this together. Space is important to everyone’s sanity, but try to view this as an opportunity to get closer with those you share a living space with, no matter what your relation may be.
7. Remember what you’re doing this for:
It’s hard to stay motivated when you have to give up the things you’ve built your (social) life around, but try to remember what the benefits of staying home really are. Not only are you protecting yourself and your loved ones - your actions are also directly helping millions of people you’ve never met before! Take pride in your part of the solution; you are making the streets safer for the people who can’t stay home, and potentially saving lives. That’s a community right there.
Transitioning to a virtual way of living is a process, and we’ve all been suddenly thrown into the deep end on this one. It’s important to remember to unplug every once in a while. That being said, you can use technology as a tool to not only maintain, but also grow your social life and sense of community during this pandemic.
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Written by Jordan McAndrew