Being socially connected with people we care about and whose company we enjoy can help us cope with stress and reduce feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. As human beings, positive social connections are really important to our mental and physical health.
However, until we have a COVID-19 vaccine, physical distancing is going to be a key factor in limiting the spread and keeping our friends, family and community safe. To help slow the spread we need to stay physically apart, which means that it’s even more important for our wellbeing that we stay socially and emotionally close to our loved ones.
Now is the time to work out other ways to connect and schedule in some regular time with friends.
How to stay connected while physically distancing
There are lots of ways we can stay connected with each other. Phone call, video chat, text messaging, email and social media are some of the more commonly used ways, but there are lots of other ideas to explore. Here are just a few:
- Send letters or postcards by mail.
- Join an online book club or start one with friends.
- Have a virtual weekly dinner with friends or family.
- Have a trivia night or do the quizzes from the weekend papers together via video chat.
- Join an online gym class, or follow a YouTube exercise session together.
- Share a virtual dance party or movie night.
- Play multiplayer video games with friends, or find apps for classic two-player games such as chess or word games.
Don’t let these ideas intimidate you. You don’t have to have an elaborate plan to connect with people. Even a simple text message or email, or tagging someone on a social media post with a positive message can help people day to day.
Who can I call if I am lonely or isolated?
If you are feeling sad or distressed about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you, know that there are people you can talk to to help you navigate this challenging time.
If how you are feeling is affecting your day to day life and you have been feeling down for more than two weeks – seek help from a health professional. Make an appointment with your GP or contact a support service.
You can find more information about support services and other mental health resources on the Department of Health and Human Services Mental health resources – Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.
How to meet people when you’re staying at home
Even when we’re physically isolating, there are ways to meet new people.
Community groups can provide a way for people with common interests to connect, so if you’re looking to make new social connections in your area and are not sure where to begin, start with your local council.
Many suburbs around Melbourne have a Good Karma Network. Have a look on their site to see if there’s one near you (and if there isn’t, start one!). Good Karma Networks operate through social media, and they aim to connect community members in a positive, collaborative way. A place to ask for help, or offer it, to brainstorm, problem solve and build relationships.
Online support forums such as the Beyond Blue or SANE Forums can be a good way to get in touch with people who are having similar experiences. Peer support forums for young people include ReachOut, eHeadspace group chats and Youth Beyond Blue Forums.
Family violence support
If you are being prevented from making social connections by someone you live with, you may be experiencing family violence. For family violence help and support call safe steps on 1800 015 188 at any time, day or night.
Learn more about family violence crisis response and support services during coronavirus.
Reach out today. Don’t put it off until you’re feeling upbeat. Friends don’t expect you to be on top of your game all the time. When you’re feeling sad or flat it’s even more important to reach out and let someone you trust know how you feel. A friend can help you talk through a problem and see things from a different perspective.
Just like you, we live all things health. We're lucky enough it's also part of our work. Join us each week as we share ideas and new ways to enjoy even better health.