Positive social habits can help you build support systems and stay healthier mentally and physically. Despite social distancing rules right now, connections with others can still have a powerful effect on our health. Family, friends, neighbors, romantic partners or other social connections can influence our biology and well being. Remain open and look for new and innovative ways to get involved with others, even if we have to think outside the box.
FIND NEW SOCIAL CONNECTIONS
- Join a group focused on your hobbies and interests, like painting, reading or gardening. There are many choices via social media platforms like Facebook and others.
- Learn something new. Take an online cooking class, art, music or computer programming course. Many are free or available at low cost.
- Volunteer or participate in community events like a park clean-up through your neighborhood recreation center or community association. Get involved and stay safe.
- Join a choral or music lovers group. Participation is possible online. Use your voice for good and make connections. Zoom is an online platform that lends itself to group harmonizing.
- Start your own group. You’ll be surprised how many people share your interests, no matter how ‘niche’ they may be. Put it out there and eventually people will come. If anonymity is important to you, you can always create a personalized screen name or pseudonym. As long as you are authentic in all other areas, connections can still be made. It’s not necessarily about political correctness; the key is respect and politeness. Should any new member post obscene or counterproductive and harmful content, you can always censor their participation without discouraging freedom of expression of ideas.
At some point in our lives, many of us will become a caregiver. The stress of it all can take a toll on your health. Depending on your circumstances, some self-care strategies may be more difficult to carry out than others. Choose ones that work for you.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF WHILE CARING FOR OTHERS
- Ask for help. List some ways others can help.
- Get organized. Make to-do lists, and set a daily routine, carving out time for yourself somewhere in there.
- Try to take breaks every day. Finding respite for yourself can help you create time for yourself or to spend with friends.
- Don’t forget to continue cultivating your own personal interests and hobbies.
- Eat healthy foods as often as you can, and exercise regularly. Establish a routine to fit into your schedule.
- Build your skills. Keep learning by looking for classes to help you care for someone with an injury or illness. Contact your local agency on Aging or other resources for supports, tips and strategies for caring for others, including yourself. It can be awfully difficult to care for others if you aren’t also caring for yourself.
GET ACTIVE TOGETHER
Where you live, work, or go to school can have a big impact on how much you move and also how much you weigh. Being active in the community can have a positive effect on your health habits and creates opportunities to connect with others, virtually or in-person while still practicing social distancing. To help make a more active community does not have to be very complicated. You can:
- Start a walking group with friends, neighbors or co-workers.
- Participate in local planning efforts to develop walking paths, bike lanes, or sidewalks to accommodate those who choose to be active: walking, riding bikes, skateboarding or rollerblading.
- Create opportunities for virtual group activities
BUILDING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
Strong and healthy relationships are important throughout life. They can impact your mental and physical well-being. As a child, you learn the social skills needed to form and maintain relationships with others. At any age, you can learn ways to improve your relationships. Therefore, it is important to know what a healthy relationship looks like and how to keep your connections supportive. During times of social distancing, remote work and virtual learning, relationships, professional and interpersonal, are extremely critical to socialization needs fulfillment. The ability to adapt and re-imagine how connections can still be made requires a more creative outlook and approach. Even in virtual environments, you can still:
- Share your feelings honestly. Tact and discretion surrounding your disclosures will be a priority, while honesty remains central.
- Ask for what you need from others. As always, the worse that can happen is that you will hear ‘no’ or not receive what you ask for. Ask anyway.
- Listen to others respectfully. Conflicts should not turn into personal attacks.
- Avoid being overly critical, angry outbursts and violent behaviors or threatening violence.
- Expect others to treat you with respect and honesty always.
- Compromise. Try to come to agreements or just agree to disagree and keep moving forward into a healthy space.
- Protect yourself from violent and abusive people. Set boundaries with others. It is always okay to say ‘no’.
COVID-19 and social distancing rules don’t have to stop you from engaging the world or satisfying your social needs. It is our nature to be relationship-oriented, and maintaining physical safety does not prevent us from making social connections. Right now, creativity is needed to discover and take advantage of new opportunities to stay connected with others. Re-imagine what it means to have fun, too. The key message here is that, despite this pandemic’s newly defined social distancing rules, we will almost certainly have to step outside of our previously established ‘comfort zones’. The overarching goal is to support our social, mental and physical health and achieve comprehensive wellness.