How can we reconnect in this socially distanced world? 2020 presented the world with a global pandemic, Covid-19. Now, in 2021, we are all trying to adapt to this strange “new normal” and many of us have lost our social connections. 2020 gave us opportunities to focus on ourselves, we practiced self-care and baked banana bread, but we soon came to realize that Covid is not going away anytime soon and, thus, 2021 rolled around. Even introverts started feeling the chasm forming in their social groups. So, how do we reconnect with the people in our lives, while still adapting to this evolved world?
It used to be so easy: you called up your friend/s, chose a location, and met up. That was that. Whether it was a coffee shop or a bar, you could chat and/or party away without a care in the world.
The bad news is that we can no longer just go wherever we want or even stay out until whenever we feel like it. Restrictions are in place preventing that. The good news is that it can still be easy to “meet up” with friends.
2020 saw the rise of all sorts of virtual meeting places. We’ve all heard of Zoom and many gamers have incorporated Discord into their day-to-day life. If you haven’t used them yet, why not try downloading one today. Then, all you need to do is add your friends and you can catch up on the rollercoaster that life has been lately. In fact, Discord has a lovely option for sharing videos, so you can even watch your friend defeat a boss in Resident Evil while sipping wine.
If movies and TV shows are more up your alley, then use Netflix Party, grab some popcorn and your favorite snacks and cuddle up virtually with your loved ones to cry over the newest drama or laugh at the latest trending comedy. If you miss the thrill of live music, then organize with your friends and watch an online concert together. Even if you just want to say a hearty “hello” to your grandma, you can video call on platforms like Zoom and WhatsApp. You can even add multiple people to a call and get your old book club up and running again.
Whatever platform you decide to make use of, it’s so wonderful to be able to reconnect with those people in our lives that we have to distance ourselves from for safety’s sake.
Online Classes & Clubs
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But, what about meeting new people? Extroverts, or people who get their energy from socializing, have certainly been feeling disconnected from the world around them, which can lead to emotional and mental declines. Even introverts are starting to feel the difference with the pandemic separating us for over a year. In fact, if you were already a person that struggled to meet new people, social distancing has certainly not helped.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and there is always an app for finding that light. Similar to how we now use virtual platforms to reconnect, we can use them to make new connections. Since we are no longer allowed to gather en masse in a venue, we can use the virtual world to meet people with similar interests.
So, why not try joining an online group class? Have you always wanted to learn a new language? Well, search online and join a class taught by an expert on platforms like Berlitz, where you’ll be surrounded by beginners just like you.
Remember the aforementioned book club? Well, if you don’t already have one, you can simply join a pre-existing one online and for free. Communities like Online Book Club or the Silent Book Club are there to provide you with conversation and intellectual stimulation with strangers. It doesn’t have to be a literature club, online communities specializing in a variety of interests are just a button click away. You can even take up chess, the possibilities are literally endless.
Though maybe you don’t just want to sit around and talk for an hour. Maybe you’re the type of person who was always super active before the pandemic and now your local gym is closed. Or, maybe you were finally going to take the plunge into a fitness lifestyle and now all your plans are ruined. Either way, the internet has you covered. Many gyms and fitness coaches have moved their classes online, which means you don’t have to motivate yourself to finally try that regime you pinned on your Pinterest board. You can rather spend time with a coach and get to see other faces sweating away with you while doing push-ups. So, get typing and sign up for yoga or pilates classes like Do Yoga with Me and Pilates Online. You can even push/torture yourself with a virtual bootcamp
Finally, there is still the option of seeing people face-to-face and outdoors in the fresh air. Now, this does depend on the restrictions your country has in place, so do be careful and follow the rules. However, many countries are slowly starting to lift restrictions, such as Ireland now, and South Africa has been on Level 1 for a while. So, as long as you wear a mask and sanitize, all should be fine. Not to mention that outdoor activities are seen as “safer”, as you can spread out more and the fresh air can prevent the fast spread of the virus.
Though, now we have to face the fact that we have been indoor creatures for a while and many of us have lost contact with our old groups. So now’s as good a time as any to try and reconnect. Start small, maybe take one friend and go and support a local restaurant or coffee shop. Start a WhatsApp group for small, social distanced events that you feel safe partaking in. Maybe there’s a local run (or walk, for those of us who did not take online fitness classes) at a park or nature reserve near you. You can get to see nature and reconnect socially on your own terms.
Once again, there are countless options out there and the internet is there to be your guide. It might be a good idea to try something out of your comfort zone, either with a group you know and trust or with new people who can challenge you. So, log on to Facebook and scroll through the events tab. You can try some of the activities that have received a boom in popularity since 2020, like hiking, swimming, and horseback riding. If you’re adventurous, try something new like paintball, line dancing, archery tag.
Not everything that is outdoors needs to be high-energy though. You can try pottery or cooking classes, where you’ll get to socialize and learn new skills.
So, let’s take the steps to start reconnecting and filling that void left by the pandemic’s restrictions. No matter what type of person you are, no matter your age, we all need social interaction for the benefit of our mental health. Luckily, we live in a technological age that allows us to connect, while still socially distancing.