There are a lot of messages swarming around when it comes to the health and safety of the world right now with COVID-19. One of the most prominent messages you see in the news, on social media, or probably even in your group texts are to stay home and practice social distancing.
Social distancing, as it relates to these current circumstances, is the idea of putting physical space between you and those around you to lessen the spread of the coronavirus. This means standing further away from people in grocery stores, banks, or other public areas; not attending in-person public gatherings like concerts, parties, work meetings; and ultimately, staying home rather than going to shopping malls, restaurants, and bars.
I consider myself an introverted extrovert, meaning that while I do enjoy socializing with others, I absolutely love and need my personal space and privacy to recharge. When the guidance around social distancing started to come out though, I even felt a little concerned about how I was going to feel connected to people around me and continue to build and grow friendships when I couldn’t technically visit with people for an extended period of time.
I am a firm believer and big advocate that mothers, and all parents really, need the socialization aspect to be healthy and happy parents. With the state of current events, doing just that in ways we have in the past are becoming frowned upon and increasingly more difficult to do.
So as I navigate these ever-changing waters, here is how I’m choosing to stay connected while practicing social distancing.
1. Get in on group texting
Unless it’s with my family, I am that person that will sit silently in a group text and watch the conversation flow. Something about group texts and the constant conversation has always been overwhelming to me in the past. These days, I’m really leaning into group texts more and more and creating little texting communities with distant friends that I can continue to check in with regularly.
While it’s so easy to just talk about what’s going on in the news, I’ve been trying to use these spaces to talk about things outside of that. We all know where to get news updates, so in these group texts, I’m focusing on finding how each person actually is feeling, something funny they recently saw or read, or maybe a new recipe they’re trying out.
2. Put the “social” back in social media
As many people do, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Between all the ads, sponsored content, and sometimes overly negative comments, I have found myself taking more frequent social media breaks than ever before. While social media can still be a bit much now that it’s an easy way to deliver constant news updates, I’ve taken the liberty of curating my social media feeds to be a place I want to be.
Did you know that every time you click on a photo and engage with it, you’re letting that platform know you want more of that content? So, if you really love puppy photos, start clicking on and liking more of those photos. Similarly, if you’d rather not see before and after weight loss photos, scroll right past them or, better yet, click unfollow.
I encourage you to find accounts or groups that you want to engage with and do just that: engage! Whether it’s a Facebook group aimed around connecting people in a positive and uplifting way or an Instagram account sharing easy and simple recipes, take some time to update who you’re following right now.
Lastly, on the accounts I have chosen to follow and keep up with, I’ve been making a concerted effort to take 2-3 minutes and actually engage in the comments of their posts. Saying hello, introducing myself, or letting them know how much I liked their post or caption is a way to begin a connection and be a part of the community.
3. Use more video chats
We’re all used to the occasional FaceTime or video chat with faraway friends or family members. Now that there is a huge push around social distancing, I’ve been looking to use more video in other areas of my life too.
Out of all video options, the ones that have increased in volume are yoga and meditation videos. Right now, people are struggling physically, mentally, and emotionally with the state of the world, and yoga and meditation teachers are taking this opportunity to share their practice with others through Facebook and Instagram Live or sharing their YouTube channels.
Another way I’m using video is to connect with coworkers. Many companies are mandating employees to work from home for extended periods of time, but many of us also have friendships with our coworkers. At my job, we’ve been discussing opening up a video chat once a week and having a virtual lunch date together. Working from home can sometimes feel isolating and so taking that sticker off your camera and showing up through video can feel less alone and more connected.
4. Create phone boundaries
Raise your hand if you’ve been refreshing your Facebook, Instagram, or news feeds? OK, me too, and I know for me, I sometimes put my phone down and feel like I’m in information overload. While I am all for being well informed always, and especially during times of crisis, how much is too much?
Whether it’s the influx of positivity, how-tos, recipes, thoughts, or life updates, there is a lot of information being thrown at us, even more, these days. Creating boundaries around my phone use and connecting with the people right in front of me—my family—has been really helpful for me to stay grounded through such a crazy time.
The boundaries I created were lessening how often I checked social media and the news app and updating which notification (if any) showed up on my locked screen. We all live really busy lives and have so much going on, and the current state of things is forcing us to slow down as much as possible. While the massive life changes feel disruptive and drastic at times, it is also making us sit still and connect with those under the same roof in a healthy and safe way.
Thankfully, we live in a day and age where we have access to a lot of different technology to keep us connected to be people near and far. As Brene Brown said, “Social distancing does not mean social disconnection,” and I truly believe that. People are going through some major life changes and as the saying goes, we truly are in this together.