As the country settles into various levels of “stay at home” orders, everyone is trying to adjust to our new normal. I am what some have referred to as an extreme extrovert. I NEED others to feel energized, so out of necessity, I have been thinking a lot about what connection means to someone like me, but also what it means to others, particularly the participants we serve.
Some of my introverted friends are thriving, this is their dream come true. No longer do they feel the pressure to say “yes” to social plans they didn’t actually want to attend, they get a free pass! In the coming week, as you check on your family members, and neighbors who may be in need, don’t forget to check in on your extroverted friends too because… WE ARE NOT OKAY! And the longer this goes on, even the most introverted people in your life will likely begin to feel the strain of isolation.
Connecting with others is an important part of who we are as human beings. Many of us rely on our relationships with other people to support us through good and bad days. Because connecting with others is an important need for me, I’ve been working out ways to stay connected while also doing my part to flatten the curve. As the need to stay home continues, I thought it might make sense to share some of what is working for me in the hopes that it might help someone else during these trying times, so here are some ideas for you to try out….
1. Stick to a Schedule!
I know what you are thinking: why in the world would I wake up early if I don’t have to? And I have to admit that the urge to sleep in is strong, but sticking to a consistent schedule is important for all of us. Not only will it help you to re-acclimate more quickly to the real world when we are allowed out of the house again, it will provide you with a sense of normalcy. Try to go to bed at the time you would go to bed if you DID have work or school the next day. Try to wake up at the same time you were waking up pre-covid. If you work out everyday, now is not the time to stop! Sticking to a schedule will keep you motivated, ensure you don’t lose track of your day, and stay productive! I even have to plan meal times so I don’t lose track of the day.
2. MOVE YOUR BODY!
There is plenty of research out there to support the importance of getting exercise. It helps to stabilize your mood, it deepens your sleep at night, and contributes to other healthy habits throughout your day. Plus, if you are out exercising, you can’t go grab a snack from the kitchen! I know that gyms are closed, and it can be tough to self motivate, but a lot of gyms and yoga studios are offering streaming classes that you can do at home. Not only is this a great way to connect with others and get moving, it can also be a chance to support a local business that may be struggling to stay open. Plus, some scientists have suggested that we should each be walking at least a mile a day to help improve our body’s ability to better fight Covid if we contract it! Some days I even schedule a facetime walk with a friend so we can both walk in our own neighborhoods but chat as if we were together. I also see neighbors from a distance, and waving at and asking them how they are doing from across the street still helps to fill my interaction bucket.
3. You can still connect
You can still connect by using technology and keeping your distance. Using video to chat with friends and family has been a complete game changer for me lately- I feel much more connected if I can SEE people than if I talk to them on the phone, text with them, or send them an email. Organize video chats with your family and friends. Start a book club that meets biweekly to discuss the book over zoom. Set up a weekly FaceTime with someone important to you. I also highly recommend organizing a living room dance party. What is that, you might ask? Invite some friends to join you in zoom or google hangout and take turns playing a fun song to dance to together from your own living rooms. You can also plan social time with neighbors where everyone stays on their own porch or in their own yard (while always maintaining at least 6 feet of distance of course). Picture organizing a weekend “brunch” or happy hour with the people who live nearby- I know it sounds silly, but it can give you something to look forward to and help you to enjoy the beautiful spring weather. Also, these plans could be a reason to finally change out of those pajamas you’ve been wearing!
4. Plan things to look forward to
Organize a family movie night or game night. Plan a date night where you make something fancy for dinner or order pick up from your favorite restaurant. See if your favorite band is streaming live shows and watch it so you can jam out from your living room!
5. And finally – GET OUTSIDE!
Out of necessity, we are more connected to our technology than ever before. When you used to spend all day at work or school and later doing social things at night or on the weekend, it was okay to spend your downtime watching an entire season of something on Netflix, but now that you are in your home and on your computer all day, getting outside will help you to feel better and provide a necessary break for your eyes. Take a book outside to read, nap in the sun, walk the dogs, order some plants to be delivered online and do the spring gardening you have been putting off, or toss a frisbee with someone in your household.
Hopefully, some of these suggestions can help you get through these strange times like they have been helping me. I bet some of you have other ideas or suggestions that have helped you out- share those ideas with others! Share them with our community so we can have more tools in our toolboxes! I know how stressful this time is for all of us, and we are all in this together. Keep taking care of yourself and I can’t wait to SEE you on the other side!