To try and limit the spread of coronavirus, the UK government are advising us all to follow stringent social distancing measures, stay at home as much as possible and to self-isolate if we have any coronavirus symptoms.
Without a clear idea yet on how long this may last, the prospect of staying at home and not being able to see friends and family is tough.
Humans are social creatures, so being forced to self-isolate can really take its toll on our mental health.
Over 8 million people in the UK live alone; even if you’re isolated at home with family members who might be driving you a bit crazy, think about friends or extended family who live alone and how you can check in with them on a regular basis.
Though we live in the era of smart phones and an always-on world, social media can be a bit of a double-edged sword, causing us to compare ourselves to those around us and taking its toll on our mental health.
Scrolling through scary stories about coronavirus and not knowing which sources to trust can send our anxiety levels rocketing.
To help you stay in touch whilst you’re in self-isolation and boost your social wellbeing, here are some positive, creative ways to use the technology that’s at our fingertips to boost your mood and stay in touch with loved ones.
1. Share a meal together via video
Whether it’s saying hi over a cup of coffee for breakfast or hosting an all-out virtual dinner party, video calling makes it so much more real. You can see people’s reactions and feel almost like you’re in the same room. Get in touch with friends and put a virtual dinner date in the diary, just as you would a face-to-face meet-up. That way, you’ll have the pleasure of looking forward to it as well as enjoying a meal together.
2. Create a mood-boosting Whatsapp group
Faced with a very serious situation, there are some very scary headlines out there. If we’re not careful, we can get stuck in an anxious spiral about events that are mostly outside of our sphere of control. Though it’s important to keep regularly checking the news for updates, balance things out by setting up a ‘good news’ whatsapp group. It might be something small like a great new recipe you’ve just tried or an article that made you smile. It’ll also make sure you have other things to talk about beyond the coronavirus.
3. Make each other laugh
Struggling for content to send to your good news whatsapp group? Make your own! Laughter is an incredible mood booster. You could share a funny story or use social media apps like TikTok or Snapchat to make videos that’ll make your friends and family laugh. Not only will you pass some time making them, you’ll have fun too.
4. Snail mail
Can you remember the last time you wrote someone a letter? Make a friend’s day by writing to them. You could even do something creative and make them a card to go with it or help them stay busy by creating your own crossword puzzle for them to solve.
5. Go to the virtual pub
People in Japan are reacting to social isolation by getting creative. In a trend called ‘on-nomi’, groups of friends are setting up virtual ‘pubs’ via video calling where they can catch up with each other over a beer. People are even extending it beyond their social groups, inviting anyone who might be feeling lonely to join their virtual pub.
6. Netflix party
Missing movie nights with friends? If you have Netflix, you could host a virtual film night or just bring friends together to watch your favourite show. You’ll all see the film or TV show at the same time and will be able to comment using a group chat on the right of the screen. Find out more about how to set up a Netflix party.
7. Virtual book group
Book clubs have been growing in popularity over the past few years; if you’re missing your regular catch-ups, keep them in the diary and meet up virtually instead. If you’re not yet in a book club, try searching online for local ones and get in touch to see if they’re going virtual at the moment. You can also find a list of virtual book clubs at readinggroups.org.
8. Learn together
Whether you’re both brushing up your language skills on Duolingo or learning a new skill like knitting, find a friend you can learn together with. Book regular catch-ups to compare your progress and help one another. Having a regular date in the diary will help keep you on track and it’s more enjoyable having someone to compare notes with and help you when you get stuck.
9. Host an online games night
Missing the pub quiz? Set up your own right from your living room. You could either use a video call or there’s now dedicated free quiz software out there that shows who’s submitted answers and who’s in the lead in real time.
10. Create your own cookery course
In need of a new ideas thanks to a sudden lack of pasta? Sick of the cooking shows on TV? With a small group of friends, take it in turn to teach each other how to cook your favourite dish. Email out a list of ingredients in advance so people have time to find them or have them delivered, then use a group video call to walk your friends through it step by step.
These are just ten of the many ways you can still keep in touch with friends and family whilst in isolation.
Whatever way you choose to stay in touch, make sure it’s something you schedule regularly to avoid feelings of loneliness from building.
For more information on what self-isolation means as well as ideas for keeping busy, download our Understanding Isolation guide.