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Social Connection from Afar

Social Distancing – the catchphrase of the past week, especially over the past weekend! A seemingly straight forward construct but incredibly difficult to enforce and adhere to. Staying away from family members and friends, missing out on social gatherings such as birthday parties and Mother’s Day, schools and colleges closed indefinitely with looked-forwards-to graduations no longer taking place, holidays been cancelled and pubs, cinemas, restaurants also closing their doors. Small businesses closing down, sporting events cancelled and any gatherings where we can’t be more than 2m away from the next person are no a no-go situation.

For the introvert in me, this is not a chore but a unique period of time where I can indulge my need for solitude without the guilt. BUT for many people this enforced isolation is not a happy place to be and can have a real detrimental affect on their mental health and general well being. And what about members of our communities who are already living at a distance from others, such as elderly or vulnerable people?

From the powers of the interwebs, I have noticed a number of people are already bored (!) having to find stuff to do at home. Being content in our own homes is not an easy ask for all. So, I have some ideas to help ease the boredom and help us to stay connected despite the distance.

Telephone

  • Who remembers being in school all day but still spending 2 hours on the phone in the evening chatting to friends? Not texting or face-timing but proper lengthy telephone conversations. Go old school and get on the phone, lying sprawled out on the floor, 1990’s stylee if you want, but this time the calls are free from our mobile rather and we won’t get shouted at from mum to get off the phone and running up the bill!
  • If just chatting is too “last century, darling” then get connected with WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime and stay intouch that way – the key thing is keeping in contact with those you don’t live with. Make technology work for you.
  • If your older family members can use their smart phone, ask the grandparents to read your kids their bed time story using facetime or even just reading it down the phone.

Letters/Writing

  • Go proper old old school and write letters – 2 fold, eases boredom and keep you connected! Plus, how lovely is it to receive a letter that isn’t a bill!? I used to have loads of penpals as a teenager and loved it. Encourage your kids to write to their grandparents, or make cards and send them. Even make your own envelopes and decorate them too. Explore your creativity and then share it with someone you love and make their day.
  • If your kids are bored, create secret code and leave messages for each other round the house on Post-its.

Old fashioned but fun

  • If your kid’s pals are in reach (ie in the same street) use walkie talkies to chat or Morse Code by torch light from their windows. (I might be getting all Famous Five on myself here!!)
  • If and when you are out – travelling to work or collecting essential food items/medicine, you don’t have to ignore people, a smile or a nod is far reaching, a small acknowledgement of the other person in a respectful non-virus spreading way

Internet

  • If Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp are your choice of communicaion, set up group chats / video and have a bookclub, a virtual come dine with me (you can work out the logistics yourself on that one), an at home pub quiz, pick a season on Netflix or Prime and discuss the episodes together each week ie Outlander (not diggin series 5, sorry folks…), if you play an instrument, set up a group with other musicians and create a jammin session or orchestra.

At home

  • In some homes, the people who live there are not always communicating and connecting, with different people having different routines and timescales; (re)introduce family dinning, and set the table, eat and chat together, get to know each other again.
  • Perhaps do a puzzle together – you never truly know someone until you try to do a jigsaw with them! If a puzzle is going to get you thrown in jail, maybe a board game or cards or dominoes is more family friendly.
  • Connect with your younger self and get out your old cds or LPs and listen to them start to finish and enjoy them. Look at, read and appreciate the artwork on the sleeves and remember what it was like before we could stream all the music all the time.

What I’m suggesting is only the start – there are endless ways of staying in touch and amused during the crises we face. And on the matter of boredom, if your kids are bored, GOOD!! Boredom is the best place to spark creativity – let the kids be bored because only they can get “unbored” by themselves; it’s a life skill lost to many adults and young people alike in this modern instant gratification world.

Stay well, stay healthy and stay in touch with each other.