“We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone…and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.” – Sandra Day O’Connor
With the rise in COVID-19 cases in the US, our nation’s leading health experts are recommending that we all continue to practice social distancing within our communities. Staying isolated from others is not inherently in our nature. Aristotle once said, “Man is by nature a social animal;” and therefore most of us are accustomed to certain daily interaction. Most people, despite whether we are outgoing or introverted, yearn for an authentic connection to others.
Practicing social distancing doesn’t have to mean being socially distant. There are many opportunities to be be creative and stay in touch with the people that we care about—without putting anyone at risk of spreading coronavirus. SociallyWize.com recommends our new embracelets that you can wear to politely communicate your contact comfort level.
While it may not be the same, there are ways to still be sociable with one another and cultivate our networks while practicing social distancing. It will entail determining a diverse mindset and method to how to better foster relationships, but it can be done. In today’s day and age, we need our personal circles, more than ever. It is essential to our soul to have the ability to be able to express kindness, compassion, and strength and hold each accountable through our personal connections.
Here are a few ways to continue to socialize and extend your support to those in our personal circles:
Assist others – donate your time or food or offer assistance to someone in your community who may be facing a greater challenge than you realize, especially the aging people who may or may not have a large social circle to count on; picking up items from the store or making a phone call to offer comfort can really make a difference.
Use video calling or FaceTime instead of texting or sending an email – Visual communication can be valuable for many people during this unusual time in history.
Create or join a safe online community to connect with “like-minded” people – Utilize free sites to maintain (or begin) membership in an interest group. Invite friends to join a virtual book club or a recipe exchange, or to share things you are doing to keep your kids happy at home. Find people who are interested in taking advantage of the same online museum tour or college course or exercise class and have a regular group discussion.
Join an online book club – there are quite a few to choose from and hopefully one is available to meet your needs, if not consider creating your own.
· Mental Health concerns: Don’t forget about self-care. People from all over the world who are dealing with the same issues support each other with advice and encouraging words.
· Plan a virtual happy hour with family and/or close friends– have an online video chat (with or without drinks) with friends you normally socialize with or use it as a reason to reconnect and catch up with an old acquaintance.
· Seek and find opportunities to connect – simply reaching out and asking, “How can I help you?” can really go a long way! And you never know, it may result in reconnecting with a undeveloped connection or facilitate a life-changing introduction.
· Establish a useful habit: Use any time in self-isolation to create positive habits. Research shows that it takes anywhere from three weeks to a year to make a lifestyle change, contingent on the difficulty of the change. A simple change, like exercising first thing in the morning, drinking more water or tending to your garden/lawn in the evening, can be set in place in only a few weeks, but changing your diet to something that is consistently healthier or sticking with a daily workout may take months.
Most importantly, people need people. During challenging and confusing times our networks are where we turn to for assistance. Sometimes it’s to seek advice or to provide support, or maybe we are looking for the ear of those who will listen or fulfilling a need to be social. Depression has continuously been on the rise even before this and fostering connections can help combat feeling lonely during these days of unpredictability.
While it does affect how we now foster relationships, social distancing shouldn’t affect our social groups. It shouldn’t mean less socializing; it should mean changing how we socialize. Overall, we may find that keeping a distance actually “level ups” our current connections! We are all trying to positively self-regulate the changing times—and making changes to how we approach relationship-building will help in producing a strong foundation for a healthy and compassionate network.