There’s no skirting around the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on our collective mental and emotional health. In the interest of practicing social distancing and minimizing our exposure—as well that of others—to disease, we now go out less and spend less quality time with each other. Our routines of celebrating life’s big milestones, like a friend getting married or a family member welcoming a new child, have also been upended. And lastly, we may have stopped doing the things we enjoy for ourselves, like partaking in our favorite hobbies. Though we are definitely better protected from getting sick, we may be feeling lonely, isolated, depressed, or stuck in a rut. It’s also likely that all of us are feeling extra disconnected and out of touch with the people who are dearest to us.
What are some things that you can do to strike a balance? It can be hard to maintain your health and also think about nourishing your emotional and mental health? Perhaps it’s time to take inspiration from these seven tips to help with staying connected during covid.
Show Your Love by Sending Extra Thoughtful Care Packages
There may be no substitute for quality time with your loved ones, but you can still demonstrate thoughtfulness and affection by sending over care packages that they’ll appreciate. You can even curate and personalize these packages specifically for their recipients.
For example, for the practical guys in your life, you can mail a stash of masks, a pair of men’s antimicrobial socks, and other items that they’ll find extra useful when they’re going about their day. For your best girl friends that you can’t meet up with for your usual movie night, send care packages of snacks that you can all enjoy together while you each tune into Netflix. For the time being, you’ll be able to express how much they mean to you, and they can enjoy something that reminds them of you.
Limit Your Use of Social Media
It’s good to remain social and to stay in touch with the world during this pandemic via the use of technology. But ironically enough, popular social media sites may be the worst place to do this. The most obvious danger is fake news. Whether due to their biases or an overly-trusting nature, some people are particularly vulnerable to believing in and also spreading harmful fake news. Contesting fake news, as well as having heated political discussions on social media, may set you on edge and potentially compromise your relationships with others.
To stay in control of your emotions and keep a rational mind when on social media, try to limit your use to only a few minutes a day. Engage your family and friends on your Instagram account rather than on Facebook if you can help it. If you cannot avoid social media, try to limit your feed to show you only content from a small and trusted group of people. Lastly, avoid getting into situations that are sure to drain you emotionally, like arguments with strangers or interactions with people that may express themselves better through one-on-one conversation.
Focus on People That Give You Strength
If you enjoy working in close proximity to others, you may find it difficult to cope with feelings of anxiety and depression. This may hold true especially if you are in an area under lockdown. In these times, it’s usually best to make sure you surround yourself—albeit virtually—with the right people.
Who are the right people? It really depends on you. A good rule of thumb is to not waste positive emotional energy on people who won’t return it, as this will be increasingly hard for you to recover. Focus on the friends and family you’re most comfortable with, and try to hit them up through your favorite apps when you have the time.
Have a Virtual Consultation with Your Therapist
While virtual meetups with friends and close family members are great, it may be important to be able to talk to someone who is specifically trained in how to help people in times of crisis. If you’re not feeling emotionally well, see if you can get in touch with a therapist or psychiatrist. They’ll be able to help you work through strategies to become more aware of your thoughts and manage your emotions in the healthiest possible manner. It can be really difficult to prioritize staying connected during covid, but you need to for your mental health.
Take Online Exercise Classes
Exercise is important for maintaining good mental health as well as a robust immune system. Unfortunately, going out for a walk or a run outside may be out of the question, especially if you live in a densely populated area.
While gyms and yoga studios throughout the world are still closed, many are offering virtual classes. These classes are the perfect way to get yourself moving within the confined spaces of your home. These classes can also be a great way to meet new friends, and that’s always good regardless of whether there’s a pandemic. Virtual classes are a great way to start staying connected during covid.
Having an attitude of gratitude keeps us from dwelling on things we cannot control. It also helps us to stay positive, but grounded. Unfortunately, not everyone is naturally grateful.
Believe it or not, gratitude is something that has to be actively practiced. And it is almost certainly one of the most important survival skills one can have in an extended crisis. Taking a few minutes a day to actively—rather than mindlessly—practice gratitude won’t only help your mental health during the pandemic. It will also help keep you grounded and happy for the rest of your life.
What can we be grateful for? Despite the seriousness of the pandemic, there are probably things for which you can be grateful. The continued health of most of your friends and family, the high COVID-19 recovery rates, and the availability of technology that helps us with staying connected during covid, even though we’re apart, are just a few of the things most of us can appreciate.
Change Up Your Entertainment
Your options for social interaction are not as limited as you might think. There are a lot of virtual entertainment options that are extremely gratifying to partake in and allow for socialization. While heading to large social gatherings and doing certain kinds of activities may be out of the question, there may be an online counterpart for something you’re interested in.
If you don’t already play online video games with other people, maybe it’s time to try it out. If you know how to play a musical instrument, you can hone your skills by watching online tutorials or by starting a virtual band. You can do book and movie reviews with groups of like-minded people. You can even have virtual dinner parties if you want to. The possibilities are endless and are only growing by the minute.
If you need less screen time, head outdoors and check out these tips on how to have a covid-safe summer.
The COVID-19 pandemic may not just be the biggest public health crisis of our times. It will almost certainly be a cause for the most widespread outbreak of anxiety and other mental health issues as well. Thankfully, we’re better equipped than previous generations to handle such a serious pandemic. Hopefully, these tips will help you find the mental strength to get through this difficult time and know how to start staying connected during covid. Just remember—we will get through this!