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Bridge The Social Distance

by Voices Wellness 22 Jun 2020

How to stay connected, while apart. By VOICES WELLNESS. 

In current pandemic times, ignoring the interim call for social distancing measures puts everyone’s health at risk. Unnecessary when we are living in an age where wire or Wi-Fi allow the means to stay connected to family and friends without physically meeting. But isolation doesn’t mean disengagement – there are still ways to have shared experiences in safety. 

No one is denying that we are a social species. Our need for connection is a hard-wired impulse, because social interaction is critical for our mental and physical health. And there are numerous studies that show a positive correlation of a strong social network with happiness, health and mortality. Similarly, socially isolated people have shorter life spans and increased risk of health and mental problems like anxiety and depression.

Even as life gradually resumes, there is an implicit understanding that we could be back inside again if there are  subsequent waves of infection. We’ve seen it happen to South Korea and now in Victoria, Australia. It’s part of the new normal until a vaccine is found.  

While challenging, social distancing doesn’t have to mean social disengagement. The good news is that we were all part of the circuit breaker, and have the beauty of hindsight. Until distancing measures are completely lifted, kind words, or a soothing voice at the end of a line can be just as powerful and reassuring.

Ultimately, it is a shared experience (albeit in mind and spirit) that bonds us, so we feel less alone to cope. Adapting how we connect now, ensures not just a more balanced state of emotions but also our Darwinian survival.  

In the event that we may have to retreat inside again, here are some ideas to keep you connected always:

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Pick up the phone and have a conversation. Bonus: No more text fights. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

Call, don’t text 

Seems simple enough, but many of us have stopped using the telephone for its intended purpose – to have conversations. Instead we send texts, gifs or memes. While cute, they are also impersonal. Conversation, on the other hand, strengthens connections and fosters intimacy. What makes verbal communication unique is not the words per se, but the tones and timbre in voice that are instant tells of emotions and attitudes. These non-verbal nuances can trigger the release of oxytocin, the love and trust hormone. This reinforces social bonding. They also reduce the production of cortisol, the stress hormone that controls our mood, motivation and fear. Hence talking, not texting, is more impactful.  

Video calling for virtual get togethers 

One way to still see your family and friends while on lockdown, is to get on a video call. Many free chat platforms like WeChat, FaceTime, Google Duo, and WhatsApp, offer video calling for multiple participants. And here’s where you can get creative and make it fun. Why not make recipes together on FaceTime? Have virtual cocktails on Skype? Or play charades or workout together on Zoom?

Have your own Masterchef competition with friends over video calling. (Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels)

Movie marathons, remotely 

Thanks to Netflix Party, you don’t have to watch movies alone. The browser extension allows you to coordinate Netflix watch parties with family or friends, to watch shows together, in real time. Binge-watch bad TV and trash them with your mates – you get your own personal chatroom. All of you will need Netflix accounts of course, and the only tricky thing is deciding who gets to pick the shows. 

Have a virtual dance party

Ok the dance clubs are still closed. No sweat. Get on TikTok together with friends and start your own dance challenge. Hey, you might be the next viral sensation.   

 

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