Make a plan to increase your feelings of connectedness.
Loneliness and COVID-19
Quarantines, lockdowns, and social distancing are in place for most of us now. You may not be face-to-face with other people for a while. The specifics of your situation will vary based on your location, job, and relationship status. As a culture, we have never done this before. The possibility of a new kind of loneliness is very real.
The most reliable path to emotional wellness is through your relationships. Even for introverts, human connection is not optional. It’s required.
Together Across the Miles
These days, many families and close friends are scattered across the country. As we adjust to the realities of the threat of COVID-19, we may wish that all our loved ones could be under one roof, if only to experience social distancing together. For many of us, that isn’t possible.
New Ways to Be Close
While social distancing may make us lonelier, it can also be seen as an opportunity. We are all facing a crisis together. Consider how learning new ways of staying connected could benefit us, even after this crisis has passed.
Not sure you’ll like communicating with technology? Studies have shown that technology can decrease loneliness and increase connectedness. The trick is to find a medium and a style that suits you.
Methods of Communication
Which of these distance communication channels do you use?
- Phone calls
- Texts and group chat
- Written letters and greeting cards
- In-app messages
- Social media
- Video calls on your phone, tablet, or computer
- Collaborative digital games
Set It in Stone
Connecting with other people now has to be on your daily must-do list with eating and sleeping. You should have two or more meaningful interactions every day. Not meetings. Not doctor’s appointments. Not tweet replies. A real conversation with a person you care about.
- Look at your calendar. Does every day have at least two expected meaningful interactions with someone?
- Let’s make sure you have a plan in place. Let’s take a look at someone who is important to you, but not living with you, who you would like to stay close to during this crisis. List this person's name.
- What is your favorite form of contact with this particular person? Why? Is this type of contact still available to you and comfortable for you?
Methods for Communicating
If you find that you need a new way to feel close, consider the benefits of the methods you haven’t been using. For example, you may find that writing a letter gives you the opportunity to express feelings you have trouble sharing on a phone call.
Or, you may find that setting up a video call on your phone while you eat dinner leads to a nice, casual conversation.
What other method of contact would you like to try? If you can, start with a method that you already have access to.
Think Outside the Box
For some innovative ideas about connecting with groups of people during times of social distancing, explore the options below.
1. Group Video Call
Reach out to your old college roommates, the parents of your kids’ friends, or your family members spread far and wide and suggest a scheduled group video call. Use Zoom or another teleconference service to connect everyone at once. If you want, you can set some ground rules for the call. Ask everyone to bring a poem or joke to read. Go around and give updates. Share something that’s going well. Invite everyone to ask for any help they might need, and share how they are helping.
2. Neighborhood Social Distancing Happy Hour
Text your neighbors or put a sign on the mailboxes to announce a social distancing happy hour. Neighbors can choose to come out and sit on their own porches with snacks and drinks, together, talking or not. Just the togetherness may be a bright spot in the day.
3. Break the Ice
If you live in a neighborhood or apartment building where you don’t know your neighbors, take the outbreak as an opportunity to connect. If you do need help now or in the future, it’s easier to ask someone you have already met. Write a short note like the one below and slip it under your neighbors’ doors or post it in a community area.
4. An Example Letter
"Hi, I’m ____ and I live in_____. I’m keeping my distance physically to keep us all safe, but I’d like to start a list of neighbors who are willing to help each other during the pandemic. If you don’t mind sharing your contact information, I’ll share it with everyone else. That way, if one of us is in need of encouragement, a prescription pickup, a cup of sugar, a meal, or anything else, we can contact someone nearby. P.S. No pressure! Adding yourself to the list doesn’t mean you have to say 'yes' to any request. We’re all in this together. If you aren’t able to help, that’s okay."