COVID-19 has made the world shift in a way that we’ve never seen before. Amongst quarantine, social distancing, isolation, business closures and job losses it’s no surprise many are finding it challenging to adjust and remain connected with others in the process.

I always knew I was an extrovert but spending the past couple of weeks inside with minimal exposure to the world outside my small unit and my housemate has made me realise how reliant I am on face-to-face contact with others. With all my University courses now online, the ability to work from home and social distancing guidelines in place, I am one of the lucky ones who have the ability to isolate themselves during this time. Trust me, during my first few days of isolation I didn’t feel lucky at all. As a fairly social and active person, staying indoors all day made me feel more disconnected to the world around me than I ever have despite access full to social media and the news.

Above all, my first couple of weeks practising social distancing has made me realise the importance of staying close to those you care about and taking the time to work on relationships despite the barrier of physical isolation.

With negative and worrying news all around us, in order to stay on track, we all should try and create something positive from this experience and using this time to focus on your relationships with others is a great start! Whether it’s calling a family member once a day for a catchup that you may not have had the time to do before, reconnecting with an old friend or checking in with someone from University, every action counts and can help make you feel more at ease during this difficult time.

It is undeniable that during this time the way we are able to connect with those around us has changed. With the ability to catch up with friends at University, chat with your co-workers on shift or even meet your best friend for dinner at your favourite restaurant inaccessible for most people right now, it is important that we figure out new ways to remain in contact with others.

Here are a few ways that have helped me to stay connected with friends and family throughout isolation that you should try:

  1. Video call one-on-one on in a group:

These days there are so many ways to connect with your loved ones online including social media but my favourite is definitely video calling. There are heaps of video calling apps which allow you to chat with multiple people at once including Sykpe, Zoom and Houseparty, which are all free to download and easy to use. Additionally, Google Hangouts is a platform which lets you have a normal phone call, video call or group chat as well as share documents and photos.

  1. Send a loved one something by mail:

While on the phone to my mum last week she mentioned that she had run out of books to read at home and as the library is closed she wasn’t able to borrow any new ones. After having a look around my place I realised that I had piles of many books on my shelf just taking up space that I knew she hadn’t read so I decided to pick out a couple and mail them to her along with a handwritten note. Although this was an easy and cheap gesture for me, my mum really appreciated it so try sending something to a friend or a family member to let them know you’re thinking of them and I guarantee they’ll love it.

  1. Have a virtual movie night:

If you have a Netflix account, through downloading an extension on Chrome you can have a ‘Netflix Party’. This feature allows you to watch a movie with family and/or friends online at the same time and includes features to keep you connected including a group chat and synchronised video playback.

 

Hopefully, these recommendations will help you to feel connected with your family and friends during this tough time and remember it is normal to feel stressed or anxious during this time and you are not alone.

If you’re struggling or need to talk, UON Counselling offers individual appointments via skype, zoom and phone. To schedule an appointment email counselling@newcastle.edu.au. Additionally, the UON After Hours Support Line is available on 1300 653 007 or Text: 0488 884 165 between 5pm-9am weekdays and 24 hours on weekends. You can also contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website.

For info updates on the University’s response to COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 page.

 

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