HOW TO BE SOCIAL WHILE SOCIAL DISTANCING
by Kelly Marcisz, clinical psychologist – www.kellymarcisz.com
With all your friends, family and colleagues hunkered down under widespread work-from home and social distancing orders, it can be tricky to sustain your social life (and mental health). Although personal and public health and safety is the most important thing right now, your social life should not be ignored. Maintaining a healthy social life is essential for good mental health. Research has shown that interacting with others boosts feelings of well-being and decreases feelings of depression.
When the most socially responsible thing we can do is to avoid people, how can we maintain social connection?
After nearly two months of living in lockdown most of us are no strangers to life online. Although we eagerly wait the lifting of restrictions come the 11th May, this does not mean that our way of socializing will go back to normal (just yet)! Therefore making the most of your social life online should still be a priority. We are currently living in time of prolonged stress and uncertainty-this is a shared reality with our friends, family and colleagues. Despite our physical distance, emotionally and psychologically, we are in this together.
Also read Kelly’s tips on how to talk to friends or family who are flouting the social distancing or self-isolation rules.
TIPS TO MAXIMISE YOUR SOCIAL LIFE (AND BOOST YOUR MENTAL HEALTH)
- Plan your virtual social calendar much like you would your RL (real life) calendar. Plan events in advance; don’t wait till the last minute when you are feeling bored or lonely to organize something. This way you wont be disappointed when someone is too busy to chat and you also have something to look forward to. Social events can help break up the monotony of the workweek.
2. It’s a good idea to try replicating your social calendar to ‘pre-covid’ time. For instance if you always had a date night on a Wednesday night or a ladies night on Saturdays, try keep the same routine. This may seem small but a “normal” routine can help ground us in times of isolation.
3. As the saying goes ‘variety is the spice of life’ and so, much like our RL social calendar was fun and exciting, with new things to do and places to go, give the same spark to your virtual world. Get creative and start a book club, join a wine club CLICK HERE or organize a game night. Never has social media been more important in finding ways for us to connect with those around us. Make full use of all the apps out there and try out new platforms with your friends and family-Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp video, House Party…the list is endless.
4. Don’t forget about the big events too. A lot has been shared on social media about the collective grief and loss we have experienced because of the virus. These feelings are often owed to missing out or having to cancel big important events like weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. Find ways in which to still celebrate these events and make the them memorable and special. CLICK HERE to read our article on Celebrating your Birthday in Self – Isolation.
5. Finally know when enough is enough. There is only so much online socializing one can do in a week. Make sure you make time to switch off and go offline. Either spend time with the people you live with or just enjoy your own company (socializing with pets and plants counts too).
In the age of covid-19, a new normal has arrived. As we isolate as individuals and families we must stay connected and make use of our communities virtually. Although this is unchartered territory for many of us, it’s important to make the most of what we have and not lose touch with one another. Prioritize your social life as much as your work life, as the key to maintaining your mental health is a good balance of both.
Are you feeling excited but also anxious about the end of the lockdown? Don’t worry this is expected and very normal…Look out for my next article of how to manage your anxiety once lockdown ends.
If you have any questions or ideas for our next COVID-19 article send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kelly Marcisz is a Clinical Psychologist offering online counseling in English, please visit her website for more information on her serviceswww.kellymarcisz.com.