Even before social-distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders were put into place, the act of connecting was tricky. Before this, your life might have been extremely busy, so it was tough to schedule time to see friends and family, or even take a moment to yourself. And while technology has made it easier for us to communicate with each other in seconds, it also provides a distraction or prevents us from truly staying engaged in the moment. We also might have taken our relationships and the ability to connect for granted.
But now, months into quarantine, you might have learned a lot about how you communicate and how you stay connected with others with limitations at hand. You also still might need help in this department. I know I do.
For me (and maybe this is true for a lot of you reading this), I've had a lot of ups and downs in my relationships and connections during this time. I've had moments when I've gotten the chance to speak with people I don't normally keep in touch with. I've had insightful and supportive conversations with friends about current events. There have been moments of fun and silliness on Zoom and FaceTime calls. But I've also experienced extreme loneliness. I've felt depressed and so disconnected from the world and the people in my life. There have been communication problems. There's been heartbreak and distancing from some people.
And it doesn't end at your connections with others. Whether you're quarantining alone or not, you've probably had a lot of time with just yourself. Maybe more than you've ever had in your life. Since I live alone, I've gotten to know myself a lot better, which has included a lot of honest and difficult introspection and soul-searching. And I'm still working through it!
All of this is to say that I am still actively seeking new ways to stay connected with myself and others because if there's anything I've learned from these last couple of months, it's that connection is so important to our well-being. Maybe you're feeling the same way. If you are, we pulled together a list of action items that could help. We'd also love to hear of any tips you might have, too, so send us a DM or leave a comment on Instagram.
How to Connect With Yourself
Journaling has so many benefits. It might be the easiest way to reflect, as you can use it to take stock of your thoughts and emotions. The act of writing down your feelings can be cathartic for some. And who knows? You might even discover something new about yourself when you write things down.
A little bit of mindfulness during your day can help you feel more in tune with your body and surroundings. Meditation can also help with stress, anxiety, mood levels, and sleep. And if that's not quite your thing, setting aside some time to just be still and quiet during the day is another option, too.
3. Check In With Yourself
Make an effort to take some breaks throughout the day and check in with yourself and your emotions. It can be so easy to get caught up with whatever you're doing, especially if you're juggling a lot of things while working from home.
4. Go Outside or Get Active
Just moving your body can make you feel more connected to yourself. Exercise is also a great form of stress release and helps clear your head.
5. Have a "Me" Day
If you're able to, take a day off to spend solo. Do the things that make you happy. It might be a bit limited right now, but you can cook, read, work out, even take a nap. Everyone needs a mental health day every now and then.
6. Practice Gratitude
It's so easy to get caught up in bad feelings that we can forget to think about the things that are good in our lives. Thinking about what you're grateful for and writing it down or saying it out loud can lift your spirits and provide a different perspective. It can also help you prioritize what's important to you and what your goals are.
7. Do Something Nice for Yourself
We can be so hard on ourselves, so be kind to yourself and do one nice thing for YOU. That might mean taking a relaxing bath at the end of the day, buying yourself a little gift, or watching your favorite movie.
How to Connect With Others
8. Do One Act of Kindness
It can be difficult to connect with strangers with social-distancing guidelines and everyone on edge. But if given the opportunity, a small act of kindness can go a long way and make a difference in someone's day. It can be doing something nice for your neighbor or even just being extra patient when you're in a public space.
9. Say Thank You
A small act of kindness can make someone's day, and a simple thank-you can do the same. With most people wearing masks out, your interactions with others can seem so impersonal, but greeting others and saying thank you can make the situations a little less awkward.
10. Reach Out to Friends and Family
You might have already been doing this during quarantine. If so, keep at it. But if there's someone on your mind who you haven't spoken to yet, why not reach out via text, email, or even a phone call?
11. Write a Letter
Receiving snail mail is just so special, especially since we do a lot of corresponding electronically. Writing a letter is a sweet way to surprise someone
12. Join a Group
It might be hard to meet in person right now, but that's where the internet comes in handy. If you want to get more involved in your community, you can join a group that shares your interests and goals. It's a great way to meet new people and have more purpose.
13. Find a Safe Space on Social Media Platforms
Yes, social media can be toxic at times, but there are some pockets of these platforms that have supportive and helpful communities. It might take some time, but you could just find a new group of people to lean on.
14. Consider Your Methods of Communication
Everyone has a different communication style, but now might be a good time to think about what your own style is and how you're communicating with others. Are Zoom calls getting stale? It might be time to move to the phone. Does texting feel impersonal? Maybe you want to try something else.
15. Make "Plans" With People
You might not be able to get your friends together for an in-person hangout for a while, but you can get everyone together over Zoom or FaceTime to catch up.
16. Ditch Your Phone If You're Meeting IRL
There might come a time when you're ready to meet up with friends or family, while social distancing, of course. So when you do get some precious face time with your loved ones, ditch your phone and other distractions so you can really savor the moment. The same goes if you're quarantining with others—when you're spending time with them, make it a point to really be present.
17. Pay Attention
Whether you're meeting up IRL, talking on the phone, or chatting over Zoom, you'll want to give the people your full attention. Half-listening or giving into distractions will stop you from truly connecting with someone.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions.
Sarah is lifestyle writer and editor with over 10 years of experience covering health and wellness, interior design, food, beauty, and tech. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she attended New York University and lived in New York for 12 years before returning to L.A. in 2019.
In addition to her work on THE/THIRTY and Who What Wear, she held editor roles at Apartment Therapy, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and The Bump (sister site of The Knot).
She has a passion for health and wellness, but she especially loves writing about mental health. Her self-care routine consists of five things: a good workout, “me” time on the regular, an intriguing book/podcast/playlist to unwind after a long day, naps, and decorating her home.