Now that the novelty has worn off of pandemic living (for most of us at least), maintaining social connections is more important than ever. With all of the stressors out there right now, it’s important not to add social isolation and loneliness.
All of our lives have been completely disrupted, some more than others. Experts say that staying connected is one of the best ways to have some form of normalcy. As Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHS) shares, “Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness and boredom during quarantine.”
What’s everybody doing?
Since it looks like this could be our new reality for a while, we reached out to our friends on Facebook to ask them how they’re staying connected safely. We love the creativity involved here!
- Holli McCarty: “I've used FaceTime more in the last months than I have since it was invented! My oldest daughter lives in northern Washington, so FaceTime has been super helpful. We've also participated in a few birthday drives/parades where we'll all drive to a parking lot to meet and then drive in a parade-like manner in our decorated cars past the birthday person’s house, honking and wishing happy birthday out the windows.”
- Inez Schaechterle: “With my siblings through Facebook and Zoom on birthdays, and once in a while just for fun.”
- Tia Elaine Olson “Zoom meetings, more frequent texting and calls. It’s a weird time to be expecting a first child!”
- Missy Evenson: “Nothing like a good ol' fashioned three-hour phone call.”
- Jessica Santina: “1) We have done virtual cocktail parties with another couple across town. They're cocktail whizzes, so they send us ingredient lists ahead of time, then we log on, they talk us through making them, then we toast and catch up. 2) My mom is in Sonoma County and alone, and she doesn't really know how to cook. I am not someone who likes to talk on the phone usually, so I wanted to think about ways to DO something while we talked. I suggested we make a dinner recipe together on FaceTime, and she loved the idea. Every Wednesday we have dinner together - we cook and eat together and talk about our weeks. 3) My daughter and her cousins back east aren't great at phone conversations, and their grandmother (my mom) doesn't often get to talk to them. So we took a page from our dinner playbook. One cousin likes to bake, so we started doing weekly baking sessions with her, my daughter, and my mom. They've created some tasty (and interesting) treats!”
Related: It’s About Time (With Our Kids)
- Lizzie Keith: “We FaceTime my mom almost nightly. I had a baby on the 22nd of March, and her trip to meet her grandson has been postponed a few times now. It’s such a bummer, but not worth the risk. I also hop on a weekly Zoom call with extended family — which is awesome because I’m in touch with them more now than before!”
- Elizabeth Hogue: “I do Zoom brunch every Saturday with my girlfriend in Denver. My mom, sister and nephew all live together now, so they come over and we eat socially distanced dinner on my front porch. Sometimes I cook, sometimes they cook and bring me something that I bring in and plate and wash my hands etc. We did a Zoom birthday party for my nephew. I also call and text A TON with my other friends same as we did before.”
- Wanda Manie: “Most of our family live away from us, so Facebook has been our way to see new babies that have been born. The hardest is not getting my hugs and kisses from the grandkids who live just a few minutes away. I so miss them.”
- Mylan Hawkins: “FaceTime, Zoom, Facebook, lots of text messages, and phone calls. Actually maybe more in touch with some than ever before! Have a weekly Zoom with friends we call the Wednesday night Quarentini Party. And a Zoom every other Monday with my sisters-in-law.”
Related: The Importance of Being Nice
- Patsy Emery: “Skype, social media, video chats via Messenger, e-mail, phone calls. We have a very small bubble (daughter and her family) and when visiting (typically back deck), we do social distancing and wear our masks. So miss the hugs and not being able to travel this summer to see family in the Midwest. But it's not worth jeopardizing our health (or theirs), so we are hunkered down for the duration.”
- Joy Viselli: “We did our best for over three months hibernating in our trailer where no people were. We rarely had Wi-Fi and often went days without a phone signal. In some ways it was glorious roughing it, but we missed our kids and grands who live in different states. There was a period of time when they could not reach us, and we sure had fun catching up with concerned texts between them trying to track us down. They forgot that we are adults who grew up sans cell phones and tracking devices! After the reopenings, our wilderness became crowded, so we re-entered and enjoy phone conversations and occasional FaceTime.”
- Duke Reedy: “Started using FaceTime with my three daughters.”
- Kim Renstrom: “More FaceTime, and I’ve started using the Marco Polo app. I find those little videos are much better connection than text messages, and they don’t interfere with my workday.”
Related: Staying Positive During Coronavirus
- Liz McFarland: “FaceTiming my young nieces. Sending them letters. They sent some back. We have a group text message that is just my brother, my mom, my dad and myself. We put little pictures in there. My dad typically would not be in this text group. He’s not big into texting. This is a way for him to get to look at pictures of his granddaughters.”
- Mackenzie Lange: “Sending cards, letters and care packages. Playing games together online like Settlers of Catan.”
- Lynn Blackhart: “We have had Zoom happy hours with different groups of friends. I think this has made us more aware of how much we love and miss our friends. Can’t wait to see those faces in person. In the neighborhood, we have had some social distancing happy hours outside.”
Some other ideas include hosting a Netflix Party, where you watch movies together with your friends, or Houseparty, which allows up to eight people to chat or play interactive games in a private room. And of course, the gamers amongst us are already way ahead of the curve in knowing how to use technology to play together without sharing the same physical space.
When you start to get down and out, think about when our ancestors had to experience a similar situation during the Great Influenza quarantines from 1918 to 1921. And then imagine experiencing all of this without the Internet or online shopping!
Steve Funk said it best, “How fortunate are we to have developed these platforms for connection just when we need them the most?”
Of course, we don’t need technology to stay connected when there are still people all around us. PsychCentral.com points out the upside to staying home more — it gives us time to be better neighbors. “Around the country, people are reporting a return to a simpler time by offering a wave or small talk with their neighbors on their daily walks, communing from their lawns, front porches, or rooftops, and contributing to help those most at risk with food and supplies. It appears there is a silver lining of social distancing, having the time to be a good neighbor.”
So how about you? How are you getting creative in this new world we’re sharing?