With all of the social distancing restrictions in place during the COVID-19 outbreak, you might be feeling a bit isolated at home. Whether you live alone, with a partner, or with a whole family, loneliness and feelings of isolation can still creep in. Your daily routine has been completely disrupted, meaningful contact with others outside your family are all but eliminated, and things are just a little bit scary right now.
It’s important for your mental and emotional health to find ways to combat loneliness and stress during these work-from-home times. While this is especially true for natural extroverts and outgoing types who thrive on social interaction and regular communication, it’s also true for introverts and those who naturally tend toward isolation.
Regardless of your natural tendencies, social isolation is a major risk factor in depression, cognitive decline, and the ability to make decisions. It’s also linked to increased self-defeating thoughts, which no one needs during a global pandemic.
Let’s discuss some fun and engaging ways to combat loneliness and isolation for your personality type.
Video chat apps have exploded in popularity during this crisis. That’s because homo sapiens are members of an inextricably social, meaning-making species that needs a group to thrive. Group membership and social connections are vital for optimal mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. The difference in needs between personality types is in the details.
If you’re an extrovert who misses having lunch with coworkers, post-work happy hours, or dinners with friends, use Zoom to replace some of that social interaction. Right now, they’re waiving some of their fees for group chats longer than 40 minutes, so you can organize a group dinner or happy hour and get your friend-fix that way. At OneLogin, we have been organizing a lot of virtual meetings to enable face-to-face interaction. On the marketing team we have tried a variety of different ways to stay engaged—daily stand-up meetings, marketing happy hours, lunch hours with coworkers, etc.
If you’re craving a good conversation with someone other than your partner, child, or pet, set up a solo chat appointment with a close friend or family member who lives outside your home. To make things interesting, give each other tours of your homes and workspaces, and share ideas for how you’ve optimized this less-than-ideal situation.
For the introvert who doesn’t like the pressure of having a live video conversation, the Marco Polo app is a great way to see faces and share stories without the live feed aspect. Marco Polo is essentially a video messaging app where you can leave recorded video messages for your friends and family, whether you’re connecting one on one or in a group. A bonus feature is that you can forward the same message to multiple, separate groups, which gives you a bit of relief from sharing the same update multiple times to multiple people.
A number of online versions of popular games can make Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Facetime conversations a bit more lively. And they can take the pressure off of introverts, too. Try Codenames, a four-person game where your teammate is on the other side of the screen, and your competitor might be sitting right next to you. If you haven’t played before, you’ll need to learn the rules here, but you can find the online version of the game here.
For other online game suggestions, Parade has compiled a pretty good list to comb through. We have also tried doing Trivia on the marketing team which was a ton of fun!
If you’re not video conferencing for your professional work (and even if you are in some cases), it might be tempting to stay in your pajamas all day long. While this might be fun for a day or two, we don’t know how long we’ll all be working from home, so it might not be the best habit for your mental health or productivity.
How you dress and take care of yourself can have a big impact on your emotional state. By waking up and getting dressed the same way you would if you were going into the office, you’re more prepared for the day and wake up your senses, even if you just plan to sit in your living room with your laptop.
Furthermore, we all need a bit of normalcy right now, and creating a routine in the absence of actual necessity can feel really stabilizing. Experts agree that getting dressed and setting a daily routine to separate your work life from your home life can have a positive impact on your attitude and outlook as you brave these strange and isolating times.
Share Your Work
We’re living in a live-streaming culture. At any given minute, you can jump onto IGTV, Facebook or Instagram Live, YouTube, or any of the other social apps and find people sharing what they’re working on. This might not be a reflex you’ve cultivated, especially if you’re shy or introverted, but you’d be surprised at how affirming it is to share what you’re working on.
Despite the negativity in the news right now, this pandemic is sure to be a catalyst for some incredible creativity on this planet. And that can include you, if you’re so inclined. You never know, you might even find a community of people trying out the same craft who can give you tips and tricks to help you progress.
Furthermore, putting creative energy into the world is a positive force for good when others are craving some stimulation. You might be surprised who comes out of the woodwork to pay you a compliment for your efforts. Head over to the Quarantine Karaoke page on Facebook for an example of some seriously supportive people encouraging everyone to sing their hearts out right now.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Journaling might be a solo activity, but creating a daily list of things you’re grateful for can really put things into perspective and help you maintain your sanity right now. If you’re not a fan of writing things down, you can do this in your head or even talk about it with your partner at night before bed. Try to vary the list to keep yourself engaged. Nothing is too small for gratitude.
Consider your health and the health of those you love, the food in your refrigerator, the power in your light bulbs, the love of your pet, your appreciation for coworkers. Doing this exercise can provide some daily relief from the stream of bad news on Twitter or your local news channel.
Know Yourself and Listen
Only you know what will work for you when it comes to combating loneliness and stress during these isolating times. But sometimes, we get into a rut that makes it hard to see what could be helpful.
If you feel like this is you right now, give some of the ideas on this list a try, even if they seem silly or outside your comfort zone. You might find that one of these suggestions is just what you need to help get you through the coming weeks or months of this pandemic. And maybe some wine would help, too.