The past couple of weeks have brought a weird, scary moment of history. As the coronavirus pandemic forces us to retreat from our daily routines in favor of staying home and staying away — not to mention the daily barrage of terrifying news — it’s easy to feel like everything is disconnecting from everything else.
That’s why it’s even more important than usual to reverse that process: to intentionally connect. With one another — for comfort, support, and human interaction — and with our own sense of self.
It doesn’t solve everything, but this kind of self-care can help us feel grounded, calmer, more invigorated, and more prepared to tackle whatever else comes our way — at work, with our money, in our relationships, and as we look forward to getting “back to normal,” whenever that comes.
Staying connected with one another
Even for the most introverted among us, regular interaction with other people is energizing and important. Community is everything. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Our friends are our superpower.
And not only does our community love and support us, they also help to connect us even more to the broader world. Women are especially good at helping each other via these close relationships — one study found that when women networked in the “traditional” way that tends to help men get jobs (where you make lots of shallow connections), it didn’t work for them. But when they had a close inner circle of other women who could help connect them to the right broad group of other people, it did.
Here are a few ideas for connecting with your inner circle during social isolation.
All the video chats
Whether it’s FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or one of those Instagram group calls (do people use those?), video chatting is the new face-to-face.
Schedule a call with a different person each evening (or, you know, with your BFF every evening).
Hold a virtual dinner party. (Maybe you even cook the same dinner.)
Get everyone on the line, start a great song, and dance it out. Collaborative Spotify playlists encouraged.
Press play on the same movie at the same time and chat your way through.
Send voice memos instead of texts
Not quite a call and not quite a text, the voice memo is the happy middle of heartfelt smartphone communication. You can do it on lots of different platforms, including iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. (iMessage also has those fun “memojis” now, just saying.)
Start a group binge or buddy read
This one works well with two people, but it also works for a group of many: Decide together on a Netflix series or a promising book and watch / read it at the same time. You can pick a certain stopping point (ex. “After episode three,” “on page 75”) and agree to pause there to chat about emotions, reactions, theories, etc.
Send them a card
A hand-written one, via snail mail. Because who doesn’t like getting mail nowadays? (This is also a really nice gesture for the people who work around you — like your apartment building’s maintenance staff or the cashier at your go-to grocery store.)
Bonus idea: Go on a remote museum tour together
Google Arts and Culture did this really cool thing where they worked with museums around the world to create virtual tours and exhibits. Jump on a Hangout, have one person share their screen, and see all the art together.
Staying connected with yourself
The more chaotic the world gets, the easier it is to feel like you’ve been pulled away from real life. Don’t let the news take all your energy, and don’t let it steal what makes you feel like you.
While events may be canceled left and right, but there are still plenty of ways you consciously choose to spend your time that aren’t canceled. Use this time to reset — do things you love, feel productive (whatever that means to you), and keep moving forward.
Do *all the things*
Make your way through your “to watch” TV list, or your “to read” book list, or your “to listen” podcast list (or all of the above). Finally clear out the queue. Get to the last page of the book that’s been sitting on your bedside table. Use this time to make progress on a thing you love.
Take this time to finally go through your clothes and organize your closet, and set items aside to donate (once it’s safe to do so again).
Find time and space for yourself if you live with others
If you and the people you live with (roommates, partners, children, whoever they may be) are home from work or school for the foreseeable future, things could start to feel crowded fast. Even if you love them very much.
Go for a walk alone with only a podcast, audiobook, or your favorite playlist for company.
Three words: Solo dance party.
Take a bath. It sounds a little cheesy, but people are (hopefully) far less likely to talk to you in the bathroom.
Work a set time into your household’s daily routine when everyone is going to do something silent and solo — like read, watch a movie with headphones, or take a nap.
Take care of your money
Our lead CFP® Professional, Rachel Sanborn Lawrence, wrote this entire article about steps you can take now to build your financial health while the effects of the coronavirus on the economy are still unknown. If you have more time on your hands, now may be the time to review your spending, consider side hustle possibilities, and get things in order.
Start that habit or hobby you’ve been meaning to pick up
Actually practice that instrument you own
Start your novel / memoir / poetry collection / blog
Start a journaling and / or meditation practice
Learn a new language
Teach yourself basic HTML
Do some jigsaw (or crossword) puzzles
Take up coloring
Being stuck at home, away from your people, especially with whatever today’s news is happening in the background? It can be weird at best, and really rough sometimes. But we aren’t alone, really. We’re going to make it through — together.
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