It might seem obvious right now, but we cannot stress enough how important it is to keep communicating with people. Self isolating can be really tough and lonely. Social distancing means we’re not having that human contact in our day. We all need a face to face laugh or a vent from time to time! I just wanna hug my friends and stroke dogs in the park again, am I right?!? Here’s a few tips we’ve put together about better communication that we hope will help!
We want to make it clear that communication is for life, not just for quarantine. However these strange times mean that incredibly brave workers are having to isolate from their families to protect them. People are trapped in homes that aren’t safe for them. People that rely on human interaction to help their mental health aren’t able to get what they need right now. With that in mind we urge you to strengthen your communication communities! Reach out to your friends and get in touch with family members. They’ll really appreciate it and it’ll keep you going too, trust me!
Video calls are a fab way to feel like you’re seeing people and hanging out. The odd WhatsApp message here and there just to check in and let them know you’re thinking of them could really brighten their day. Even just getting on a game and chatting whilst you play a few rounds is a nice and casual way to stay in touch!
FaceTime- the old tried and trusted! Good to chat to your immediate family or partner with- pretty easy to use and most people have on their phones!
Zoom– good if you want to chat with a larger group of pals or extended family members. Ideal for a quiz!
Bunch– place to play lots of games with friends online!
Google Hangouts – another option like FaceTime and zoom, and simple to use- you just need your gmail address. Can hangout with up to 25 people!
Netflix Party– a way you can watch something with pals on Netflix together whilst you comment and discuss what’s happening on a sidebar on the screen- good fun!
notOK– more of a mental health focused one but this app allows you to message up to five “trusted contacts” along with your GPS location, if you’re in a bad place emotionally. The message will simply say “Hey, I’m not OK! Please call, text or come find me” . Obviously it’s a lot harder right now for someone to physically get to you. But at least having someone message you (when you’re struggling to articulate that you’re in a bad place) seems like a handy tool to me. We’ve had some awesome students we’ve worked with use this with their parents or carers and they’ve found it particularly helpful.
A good shout for those of us working/studying from home is to have a distinct separation between ways we communicate. For example, keep one form of communication for work meetings/study sessions/student support groups like google hangouts. Then use FaceTime for family members, and Zoom for your friends. Having that separation will allow you to switch off and enjoy your socialising time more, without feeling like you’re on a screen all day. And remember, just like your boss or teachers might check in to see how you’re progressing work wise, make sure you check in with your pals too. Ask them how they are. Ask them twice how they really are to give them the assurance you care and that you’re here for them. It’ll make it easier for them to open up when you gently push them for a more in depth answer.
Also-it’s great to have more formal chats in your work wear, or a hang out with your friends when you’ve washed your hair and put makeup on for the first time this week. But it’s also totally normal to be in your PJs and just have a mate on FaceTime in the background whilst you potter about. It all depends what the context of that call is and how you’re feeling or what you need right now.
As much as it’s important to talk through information around Corona, some people might find this really triggering or distressing. If this sounds like you we suggest you try and sort out “safe spaces” for yourself. It’s absolutely fine to drop a message to your pals before a group zoom session to say you’re struggling a little. Ask if the group can keep discussion of the pandemic to a minimum for you. It’s OK to have structured topics you want to discuss, it’s OK to plan what you want to talk about or what’s off limits for you today. It’s OK to just play games or listen to music/ watch a film together without going into details of your day.
Sometimes it’s just nice to be together without actually being together! There are no rules to coping right now. Just do what works for you and take care with your feelings.
If you live by yourself or truly feel like you can’t talk to anyone in your house then please remember there’s always helplines and support communities you can get in touch with. Whether it’s dropping them an email, giving them a quick call, or jumping on a messenger service. Someone will get back to you who is trained and happy to listen to you. Find one that suits you and have a chat about what’s on your mind and get some advice. We have a bunch of helplines linked on our website- click here to take a look!
Another idea is to join a positive online community. Could be a Facebook group about something you’re passionate about or perhaps just commenting on your fave bands live streams. You could even set a group up yourself! It’s good to connect with people with shared interests and to get involved so you feel like a part of something! Although this can be mega fun, please do be safe online and don’t share any personal information!
Alternatively you could find a letter writing campaign. Or find out how you can reach out to vulnerable, elderly or ill people who might want a letter or phone call. A quick search of google or an ask around on Facebook of what’s going on in your area and how you can get involved is a good place to start!
Our final tip is that it’s OK to shut off and have a break. I spent a lot of time last week checking in on people and chatting away for hours on FaceTime. By the weekend I ended up just having a chill one with some me time and that is TOTALLY fine! Make sure you’re being social safely in any way you can. But make sure you’re taking time to decompress and relax too. Mute the group chat for a few hours or screen a call. Message and say you’re having a quiet one and you’ll get back to them tomorrow.
Feeling pressure to hang out because “it’s not like you’re busy at home, what have you got going on?” Just let people know that you’ve got a couple of bits to do right now and tomorrow might be better for you. Or DM someone trusted in the group chat and let them know that you’re not up for it right now.
It’s also OK to dip out of a call if you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you need a break from talking about corona. It’s important to recharge your batteries (metaphorically and literally on your phone or iPad!) Take care of YOU!