We’re living in a situation that we have never faced before, where we’re being asked to stay at home and practise social distancing to help keep ourselves and others safe, which is understandably likely to change the way we connect with the other people in our lives.
Whilst we’re spending prolonged time at home, we might be back living with people we aren’t used to sharing our space with and be physically apart from others we might usually live with or spend time with regularly, which can have a real impact on how we feel.
Social distancing means that we need to keep a physical distance from others but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue our relationships with them and find other ways to connect with people.
Here are some ideas that might help you to maintain or even improve your relationships and connections with the people in your life during lockdown.
- Find new ways to connect with friends, use Facetime, Zoom or WhatsApp for group video calls. If you would usually go to a pub quiz or a gig, there are plenty of livestreams available to join in with as a group. If you would usually go for coffee or lunch, do the same but over video chat.
- If you like to study with others, arrange a time to do it via video. Even if you’re all working quietly with the occasional discussion, you’ll still feel connected.
- Arrange a date night with your partner, finding ways to bring your dates into your home. You could get dressed up and cook a nice meal or order a takeaway, watch a film together or play games.
- Check in on how your loved ones are coping with the current situation but also take time to talk about subjects that aren’t COVID-19 related, it’s ok to talk and laugh about other things at the moment too.
- Find the best way to communicate with people in your life. Do they prefer texting or WhatsApp, email, phone calls or video chats? If you find a way to talk in a way that you’re both comfortable with, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy it.
- Take the opportunity to get to know the people in your life better. Having more time might allow for deeper conversations and space to learn more about each other.
- Once you’ve found the best ways of staying connected with friends and family, communicate how you’re feeling respectfully and honestly and with kindness. If something is bothering you, try to talk about it before it becomes a bigger issue.
- Whilst it’s important to raise issues and talk about them, it’s also important to let others know you appreciate them too.
- Respect that your friends, partner or family members might have different ways of coping with the situation. Others might want to know as much as possible about what’s going on whereas you might want to take each day at a time. Try to consider the other person’s perspective as much as you can.
- If you need to have a conversation about something that’s bothering you, try to use “I” not “you” statements when you’re talking. An example would be “I’m not feeling heard when I’m talking to you” rather than “you never listen to me”.
It’s helpful to try and maintain healthy relationships and connections with people at a time like this so that we know we’re not on our own, however it’s also useful to think about how to maintain boundaries within relationships too, so that we get some space when we need it.
- If you’re living with other people who are now working or studying from home too, chances are it might get a bit crowded at times. Try to agree on a way of sharing your space, especially shared areas such as the kitchen, so that you all have time to use it when you need to.
- Agree on times of the day where you won’t be disrupted if you’re trying to focus on University work. Work out a timetable and communicate with the rest of the household to make sure you get the space you need when you’re trying to concentrate.
- Respect that everyone in the family might need some space at times and try to provide this for them where you can. If we want others to respect our boundaries, we need to respect theirs too.
- Switch off from your phone if you need a break to focus. Although it’s good to be connected, you don’t have to be online constantly and it’s good to take a break every now and again.
- Allow yourself to be heard, if you need space then ask for it. Taking responsibility for communicating your needs means you’re more likely to get the support you need.
We hope the above tips are helpful to support you in staying connected. If you’re finding it difficult to cope and need some additional support, please contact the Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Service on email@example.com.
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