Anxiety, depression, stress, and suicidal thoughts have been at an all time high since the start of the pandemic. Many of these symptoms are associated with isolation and loneliness — two problems that many people have had to face as a result of strict lockdown measures. No doubt, mental health problems and disorders have become much more common as a result of forced separation from family and friends. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch during a pandemic. If you’re pining for some companionship but social distancing is getting in the way, then these tips might help you feel a little less lonely.
There are lots of different platforms out there that are specifically designed to bring you closer to your family and friends even when you are miles apart. From video calling software like Skype, Zoom, and Messenger, to fun entertainment applications like Netflix Party, there are no limits to the ways you can virtually spend time with those you hold near and dear. Here are some ideas on how to connect with family and friends online:
- Host a virtual dinner party where everyone learns to cook a dish for the first time
- Enjoy a cup of coffee with friends and relatives to start off the day
- Cap the night off with a glass of wine and video call with your special someone
- Try a new fitness routine online with your best bud
But aside from helping you spend time with loved ones, digital programs these days can also fulfill your need to meet new people, to discover new hobbies, and to explore fun ways to spend your leisure time. A great example would be Steam — a gaming platform with over 30,000 games and 90 million active users. If gaming isn’t your thing, there are online classes that cater to hobbyists and fitness enthusiasts among other things. These classes virtually bunch you together with many other participants, giving you instructions on almost anything under the sun — from painting and knitting, to yoga and weightlifting.
Spend Time with the Neighbors
Physical distancing doesn’t mean that you have to live without seeing another face in person for the rest of your life. If your neighbors have been diligently respecting safety protocol like you, then you might be able to enjoy a backyard barbecue with two or three guests. If you want to be doubly sure, then there’s no harm in simply staying on your own turf and talking over the hedge. In times like lockdown, simply having a conversation with the neighbors can be a major mental health boost. Schedule a backyard lunch with your friends next door, or catch up with a conversation while you tend to your gardens. Just having another person to share and listen can do wonders to deter loneliness.
Volunteer to Help
Now more than ever, people need help to survive the difficult times of joblessness and financial instability. So you should expect there to be quite a lot of non-profits working round the clock to bring support and assistance to marginalized groups that need it most. Organizations like the American Red Cross, All Hands and Hearts, and Project Hope are all looking for volunteers that can help them deliver aid to families and individuals most affected by the economic repercussions of the pandemic. And while you might have to go through a test or two to guarantee you’re not infected, the rewards are more than worth it.
If there aren’t any groups in your area that are accepting volunteers, then maybe you can head out to the local soup kitchen or pet shelter where you might be able to get a gig helping out with their everyday activities. Aside from being able to help others, volunteering also gives you the chance to connect with other people with the same goal in mind. But of course, nothing could feel more satisfying than putting your desire for connection into fruitful, altruistic work.
Join an Online Group or Club
Social media platforms like Facebook are teeming with groups that let you join like-minded individuals who share similar hobbies and interests as you. These are great places to find new information and enrich your experience in a particular activity or to expand your knowledge. Lots of these groups also hold occasional meet-ups in certain areas where you can meet new friends and connect with other members. If there’s an event in your locality, then you can join others from the same area and get together for a mini-convention. Of course, these meet-ups are almost always limited to a specific number of people, so make sure you sign up early. Don’t forget to bring your mask!
Go for a Jog
A solo run might be just what you need to get rid of that cabin fever. Seeing new sights, fresh faces, and breathing in fresh air can do wonders for your health. Plus, having the chance to meet other runners along the way can make you feel a little more connected than if you ran indoors on a treadmill by yourself. There are some states and cities that don’t allow individuals to jog without masks, but the CDC asserts that as long as you’re not coming into close contact with anyone who doesn’t live in your home, then you should be good. But just for the sake of safety and adherence with protocol, it doesn’t hurt to keep a mask in your pocket when you head out.
If you’re not big on jogging, then you could also consider riding your bike. A leisurely ride through the local park can give you that refreshing break you’re looking for. If you’ve previously joined a biking group on Facebook, then you might be able to organize a small biking meet with two or three others in your local area.
Try a Virtual Date
Maybe you’re locked down miles away from your special someone, and you’re just pining to spend some quality time together. Fortunately, the internet has made that possible. Museums, zoos, and other tourist attractions have opened their virtual doors to the public, letting you take online tours of their facilities. While some of them might charge dirt cheap prices, others give out the tours for absolutely free. Hop on your desktop or smartphone and join your special someone through video call while you explore interesting new sights together. Other virtual date ideas include cooking your own versions of a new recipe, watching an online movie together, or playing a video game. More creative couples have even tried dabbling into virtual reality where they can interact with each other through the most immersive platform presently available.
Get Active on Social Media
Maybe your socials were only ever necessary for staying up to date with your friends’ and family’s lives. But now more than ever, you might want to exhaust the opportunities that social media provides to help you feel a little less isolated. Leave a comment on an old friend’s new profile photo, reconnect with your childhood best friend, or get to know your cousins a little better — Facebook offers a ton of ways for you to reach out and connect. For those looking to try something new entirely, there’s blogging and vlogging. These opportunities let you share more about your daily life, your routines, your hobbies, and whatever else you feel like talking about, making them the perfect outlet especially if you feel like you’ve been without anyone to talk to. People who really work at it even stand the chance to turn it into profitable occupation, since reputable blogs and vlogs can generate income through ad placement. Sure, it might take a while before the popularity picks up. But sometimes, just the ability to vent out what’s on your mind can be rewarding in and of itself.
Safely Connected During a Pandemic
All these stringent lockdown rules might make you feel a little extra distanced from your loved ones, but there’s hope yet. With the growing need for companionship and connectedness during these trying times of isolation and physical distancing, people have developed new ways to enjoy good company without having to put their health at risk. If you’re feeling a little extra blue, pull out your phone, your laptop, or even just your most comfortable walking shoes. There are loads of ways for you to stay safely connected during a pandemic.