As this quarantine continues and we’ve established new work-from-home routines and rhythm, community has taken on a different look. That being said, avoiding isolation is vital. Most of us have used platforms like Zoom and FaceTime more in the past month than in our entire lives prior to Spring 2020. While we will be forever grateful for these online means of communication that make speaking with and seeing anyone, anywhere possible with internet connection and a few short clicks, the face of communication and community has shifted – and probably not for the better. Because of our inability to be in the same place physically, most of us are feeling the repercussions of isolation in some form or fashion, whether we can put our finger on it or not.
Countless inspirational quotes and stories speak to how “we are strong together” because what they say is true: humanity needs community. Loneliness, when left unchecked, plays dangerous games with lasting consequences in our minds. Putting up walls of apathy may seem like a painless, harmless coping mechanism now; but how do we continue to accept, even welcome, emotion – ours as well as that of others? How do we battle isolation in the middle of this unprecedented time and strengthen the way we connect long after this pandemic subsides?
Here are a few ideas for avoiding isolation:
Realize the difficulty.
Accept that interaction with people feels different and hard right now. Name the struggle and give yourself freedom to grieve the loss of what community used to look like. The Harvard Business Review published an exceptional article by Scott Berinato entitled That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief in which he states, “If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it.” If community feels distant, acknowledge all that entails for you so you can start to move through it.
Once you acknowledge the difficulty change creates, do something about it. Reach out to people, even – and especially – when you may not feel like it. When others come to mind, send a text message or call; and do not worry about how they reciprocate. Your thought is what counts.
If someone else tries to connect by being funny when you don’t want to be funny, tries to be sentimental when you don’t want to be sentimental, or just doesn’t say the right thing, focus on the fact that at least they are trying. Be generous. Welcome the attempt and endeavor to connect in return.
Initiate socially-distanced time with your people.
Depending on the mandate of your state, schedule walks, across-the-yard picnics, or stop to talk to a neighbor from across the street for a few minutes. Even though you may stay six feet away, in-person conversation creates a refreshing sort of normality. This, is a nice change from FaceTime and Zoom.
Circumstances do not have to define quality of life. Purpose to maintain and creatively strengthen relationships with friends, family, and co-workers.