Here we are again, back in lockdown. Despite our best efforts, hopes and prayers, it looks like this pandemic isn’t going anywhere for the time being – and neither are we. Sadly, social isolation, regardless of how brief it is, can take a toll on our mental, physical and emotional health.

Humans Are Social Beings

There are various theories that explain why humans have an intrinsic need to socialize. The most popularly spouted one is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Most of us would have a faint recollection of this theory which we probably learned in high school. Remember the pyramid? Well, according to Maslow, ‘social needs’ are a necessity that must be fulfilled in order for one to achieve ‘self-actualization’. Simply put, humans are fundamentally social beings.

Unfortunately, for the last one and a half years we’ve been asked to keep our distance, to fear others, to stay shielded behind masks and to stay away. It is undeniable that COVID-19 and the constant lockdowns that come with it have placed unprecedented pressure on our social lives. So how do we stay connected when we’re mandated to stay apart?

Let’s stay connected

While nothing can replace the warmth of a physical hug, the comradery of a high five or even the feel of a simple handshake, here are 5 ideas to help you stay socially connected during this pandemic.

1. Practice Simple Acts of Kindness

Grand gestures aren’t always the best way to show someone you care. In fact, sometimes it is the smallest acts of kindness that often leave an imprint in someone’s life. A quick text message to your dad, a phone call to your aunt, an email to that colleague who lives alone or even bringing in your next-door neighbour’s garbage bins could make a world of difference in their lives. Start by making a list of people you care about and make a plan to stay in touch.

2. Make Use of Technology

While most of us may have never heard of Zoom pre-pandemic, this virtual meeting room has become a household word that even the youngest family member is now familiar with. Similar apps like Google Hangout, Whatsapp, Facetime, Houseparty and Microsoft Teams can help you stay in touch and keep everyone updated. Plan a virtual trivia night with your best mates, play online games together, hold story-telling sessions with your nephews and nieces or even have a movie night together!

3. Help Those Around You

There is a saying that goes, “Grow where you are planted”. Although we may feel “planted” and seemingly stuck in this current lockdown, we can still use our abilities, gifts and resources to help those around us. There are some who are suffering from this lockdown more than we are – loss of jobs or income, mental health challenges, health issues and a host of other issues that can be debilitating. For those of us who are able to navigate this lockdown a little easier than the rest, we have a collective social responsibility to extend help where we can. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been many stories of people starting up community pantries, food banks, shared gardens and other initiatives to help those who are struggling. What can you do where you are planted? Reach out and connect to the community around you!

4. Connect With A Virtual Community

Admit it, we’ve all wondered if there were like-minded people out there who shared our love of less popular interests (other hamster-parents, jigsaw aficionados, plant hoarders, board game enthusiasts, etc). While it may come as a surprise to you, rest assured that you are not alone in your interests! A quick search on Instagram or Facebook is bound to find you in virtual communities with shared interests. Join these communities, share stories and inspiration, make new friends and connect!

5. Ask For and Accept Help

You don’t always have to be the hero. There will be days when anything that could go wrong, will go wrong. Add that on to the helpless feeling of being socially distanced from your loved ones and you’ve got yourself the recipe for total disaster. If you find yourself in that situation, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Despite what you may think, your friends and family want to help. So, do yourself a favour and reach out.

Finally ...

While we may not be able to replace the value of physical interaction, we can still be flexible and think of creative solutions to stay in touch with our family, friends and community. So, until we’re out of the woods, let’s take care of others, take care of ourselves and stay connected!