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How to stay connected without leaving the house

Life as we know it has been turned upside down in recent weeks due to the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent nationwide lockdown. Looking after your physical and mental health has never been so important as a result, especially as we try to handle the uncertainty of the months ahead.

One of the biggest challenges most of us will face during lockdown is not being able to have regular, face to face contact with family members and friends. Due to social distancing rules, even exchanging a conversation with a stranger in the supermarket is prohibited.

Being social is good for you – it unlocks several benefits to improve health, boost mood, and ultimately enhance quality of life. However, you can still reap the rewards of an active social life from your home. Read on to discover our tips for connecting with people even in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Keep chatting

We’re fortunate enough to live in a world where we have everything at our fingertips. This unlimited access to technology comes in handy now more than ever, allowing us to keep in touch with friends, family, and work colleagues, even when we can’t see each other in person.

Here Mind reveals more about how to keep in touch digitally:

“Make plans to video chat with people or groups you’d normally see in person. You can also arrange phone calls or send instant messages or texts. If you’re worried that you might run out of stuff to talk about, make a plan with someone to watch a show or read a book separately so that you can discuss it when you contact each other.

Think of other ways to keep in contact with people while meeting in person is not possible. For example, you could check your phone numbers are up to date, or that you have current email addresses for friends you’ve not seen for a while.”

There are tons of great apps and resources to stay connected during lockdown, FaceTime, WhatsApp and Zoom being the most obvious. I have been having FaceTime cuppas with my friends online. Pop it in your diary so you have something to look forward to. I usually do this with a friend of mine who I have a child in common with, i.e. one of their children is a friend of one of my kids so the four of us chat together.

Teaming up with your younger person can make it more light hearted than focusing on the doom and gloom that some adults can be discussing! It also means you spend half an hour with one of your kids without the others being about.

For some, social media chatter can get quite frantic – with lots of messages to answer on Snapchat, WhatsApp, text, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and similar. Those pinging emojis or one-line statements can leave the receiver feeling a little flat, so how about sending voice messages instead? The sound of your voice can be so much more uplifting than a few hastily typed words.

Play together

Technology will no doubt provide a never-ending source of communication and entertainment during lockdown, so why not combine the two?

Houseparty is an app that has gone viral since the UK lockdown and social distancing measures were announced. Using this app, you can party with friends and family remotely, enjoy group video chats with ease and even play games with competitive loved ones.

Celeb favourite and now the world’s fastest growing social media platform, TikTok, offers another great way to stay connected and entertain yourself with trending challenges.

Virtual pub quizzes and digital dinner parties are also proving popular. You can play Scrabble GO with other family members who may be isolated away from you at the moment too.

If binge watching a Netflix series is more your kind of entertainment, then free extension Netflix Party lets you do this with friends and family too. Enjoy a great movie, series or documentary together without the hard work of synchronising everyone separately. Its group start, stop, pause, and chat functions means it’s just like friends and family being on the sofa with you.

Embrace social media

Social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, may be a tad annoying at the best of times but during the worst of times, they can provide a great way to stay in touch with the wider world as well as those within your network.

Since the lockdown was announced, social media has become a great space for combating loneliness, with dedicated groups to support those in isolation providing vital lifelines.

Lend a hand

If you’re fit, healthy and over 18, then volunteering could provide a way to stay connected with the world and lend a helping hand during the Covid-19 crisis. The government launched a huge appeal to recruit volunteers for the NHS and some 700,000 people have signed up to help so far.

Other organisations are following suit to combat the shortage of workers and keep the country afloat during this particularly difficult time. Whether you are fit and well enough to leave the home to help out in your community or whether you are in isolation there are many ways to contribute, even from the comfort of your own home.

If you can’t help others out at the minute, help yourself by learning a new skill, fine-tuning an old one or enjoying a hobby that you would have done offline online.

Join a book club to indulge your passion for reading, add to your skill set by enrolling on an online educational course or dust off that musical instrument and jam with other musicians in real time on Jamkazam.

Or how about having a knitting or crochet activity get-together online? There are tons of hangouts accessible online or you could start your own via Google Hangouts or another video chat service. I am currently relearning how to crochet – which is great for your mental and physical health and wellbeing – with the help of a friend online. It’s a great way to get together.

You’re also not only learning a new skill, but moving your focus onto task-based activities and away from worry. It’s made a huge difference to my mental health and improved my coordination, plus I’ve been able to spend quality time with my friend.

Find more advice for looking after you during the coronavirus outbreak here.

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