These past few months have just been bizarre. Homeschooling, not leaving the house, and washing our hands more times than we have ever done so before. They have been quite uncertain times, and at times like that is when it is important to look out for others, as there is an incredible strength that comes from a sense of community. When there can be so much leaving your feeling anxious, it is so helpful to have some extra love and support in these challenging times. And although for many people, life is starting to resemble some form of normality, there will still be many of us that can’t go back to our normal lives, because of shielding or other health issues.
When you also throw into the mix the fact that travel in some cases is still out of the question, it leaves many people, such as expats, or those with family that live abroad, a little distant. Cancelled travel plans, even if you just have family that live at opposite ends of the country, means that you can still feel like you don’t quite have your people with you, and, when you’re not sure when you will see them again, it can make it much harder. So with that in mind, whether you have family that are far away, or have friends that are isolating or shielding (or you are the ones doing that), then here are some ideas on how you can stay connected and feel a little happier about the craziness of all of this.
Tips to Stay Connected
Social distancing is something that is recommended to help to reduce the spread of the virus. But even so, it doesn’t mean that you have to be alone and isolated. Depending where you live, you could form a support bubble with another household, but just in general, you don’t need to be isolated just because you’re not able to get out as much, or are reluctant to get out as much.
- Video calls: Just because you can’t see your friends and family in person, doesn’t mean that you’re not able to see their face and have a conversation with them. There is something nicer about talking face to face, rather than on the phone, especially if you’re feeling low or lonely. There are so many apps to use from Skype to FaceTime to allow you to do video calls, and the rise of Zoom has really taken off thanks to quarantine too. So if you want to have some interaction with others, and see family that are far away, parents, or even grandchildren, then video calls are a good way to do it.
- Phone calls: as well as video calls, there is the classic phone call that you can still do, of course, and hearing someone’s voice can be just the tonic sometimes.
- Group Chats: group chats can get a bit of a bad rap from time to time, but for some light-hearted conversation, a place to ask quick questions, or just a place for fun and to share memes and jokes, it can be just what you need to get through being at home all day. It can also be a place to share messages of hope and comfort with others, as well as make plans for the future. So they can be well worth doing. If you’re not already part of one, it is something that you can easily set up yourself.
- Care packages: Although it isn’t a direct contact with them, sending someone something to their home, with a note from you, can be a really nice touch, and let them know that you are thinking of them. Putting a bundle of things together that they love can be a nice thing to do, and it gives you something to focus on as well. However, if getting out and about isn’t going to work for you, then there are online stores like Tasmanian Gourmet Gifts that you can order from, and have the gifts sent directly to your recipient with a note to say that it is from you. There is bound to be an online store that has something that your recipient will love. When you aren’t close by to help them, it can be nice to know that they are being thought of.
Some other ideas for things to send out to someone that you’re far from are:
- Ordering their favourite meal to their house, using a food delivery app
- Send them a letter or a note, even if it is just to say that you miss them
- Order some flowers to be delivered to them
- Have a virtual party using Zoom, and get people all in one place. This can be a lovely touch if it has been someone’s birthday and they feel like they’ve missed out on proper celebration
- Simply think of something that you could send to them to put a smile on their face. A magazine, a book, a scented candle or some fluffy slipper are all examples of something that could work well
If you are able to help others at the moment, as your health is fine, and you feel happy going out and about to shops, then there are a number of ways that you will be able to help those in your local community. More than ever, it is important to strengthen your social connections, but for some, such as elderly neighbours, it can be such a necessity to have the help and offers of care and support. There are still a number of things that you can do for someone else, but from a safe distance.
- Helping with errands and chores: even though there are many things that have been cancelled or paused, life is certainly not one of them! In times like these, having a lot of errands and things to do can feel like a mountain to climb when you’re a person in a vulnerable group or feel anxious to go out to do them. So if you are able to help, look around for those people who could do with a little extra help in your neighbourhood. You could easily help in their garden or yard pulling weeds while they stay indoors, for example. You could take a dog for a walk or help them with their mail or packages. Even something like going to pick up someone’s prescription for them can be a life saver, quite literally.
- Grocery shopping: although you can order groceries online, there are so many people that won’t get a book slot, or won’t have access to make the bookings anyway. So if you have managed to get a booking slot, see if any local friends or neighbours want anything adding to the order. If you’re going to the supermarket, then do the same. When someone doesn’t have to worry about the kind of food that they are going to have to eat or how they are going to get to the store, then it can be such a huge relief, if you are in a position to help.
Do Your Part to Stay Healthy
One of the biggest things that you can do to help others at the moment, especially those in the high-risk groups and the vulnerable, is to make sure that you are taking care of your own health. We have been given the guidelines that we currently have for a reason, so it makes complete sense to adhere to them. If you feel unwell, especially with a cough, temperature, or a loss of smell or taste, then stay home. The others that you live with, if any, should also do the same. Some restrictions have been lifted, but if you head to the shops, restaurants, and pubs when even feeling the slightest bit unwell, then you could be spreading your germs to a number of people. Washing your hands regularly, distancing from others, and deep cleaning your home are all things that you can be doing, as well as wearing surgical masks when in public spaces.
Whether you are staying home or people you would normally associate with are, it is important to be patient as people deal with things very differently. This situation, because there are still a lot of unknowns, can be frustrating, and for many, quite anxiety-inducing. To help, it makes sure that you are positive and patient, with yourself, as well as others. There are a lot of positives to focus on, but likewise, if you or others need time to be alone and to process things, then give that time. Being a light for other people, as well as yourself, will be a natural way to be a great support.
How have you been getting on with life as we now know it? Is there any other advice that you would add to be able to help yourself, as well as being a help to others? It would be great to hear what you think.