May 11, 2020

How to Navigate Social Connections During COVID-19

Written by Rachel Eddins

Man staying at home, navigating social connections

Humans are social creatures, and we thrive on face-to-face contact. In the last few months, though, we’ve had to severely cut down on social activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity of social distancing. Still, our need for social connection remains strong.

girl on bed navigating social connectionsSo how can you stay connected during the pandemic? How can you fight off loneliness and care for your mental health? These are tough questions, with different answers for everyone. Still, there are ways to safely stay social until we can get back to seeing each other in person. Here are some ideas for navigating social connections.

Quarantine Might Be a Time for Self-Care and Love

Although you might be craving social interaction more than ever, now might actually be a good time to step back and look inward. We’re wired to care for others, but we often don’t make time for ourselves. Separated from friends and family, now could be a good time to practice some self-love and focus on self-care.

Journaling, exercise, reading, sitting with your feelings—all of these can help you work through problems and feel calmer. If you normally rely on social activity to help cope with trauma in your past or mental health issues you’re struggling with, then you might be feeling very fragile. It’s okay to focus on yourself. Use this time in whatever way is healthiest for you.

Know What’s Appropriate By Understanding the Gender Differences in Mental Health

We all need to be understanding and sensitive to the needs of others during this time. This can be challenging if you aren’t sure how others are feeling. You can’t get inside someone else’s head, but you can educate yourself on topics like gender differences in mental health. Everyone is processing quarantine in their own unique way and some may be adjusting better than others on the surface. Be mindful that mental health and self-care looks different for everyone.

Anticipating the needs of your partner or your friends can help bring everyone closer together. By taking the time to understand the differences in mental health between individuals and how everyone is processing and adjusting to quarantine differently, you can more appropriately connect with others and assist in any way you can.

Be Sure to Make Eye Contact… Even If it’s Virtual!

We’re all getting used to communicating via video chat during this pandemic. Unfortunately, we’re all learning together and etiquette is a little bit up in the air. What is clear is that if we truly want to connect during the pandemic, then we need to really look at one another.

You might never have thought of this, but if you’re not looking directly into the camera while video chatting, you’re not actually “making eye contact.” Eye contact is crucial for showing attention and engagement, and you’ll connect more naturally with people online if you train yourself to look directly “at” the speaker.

Now May Be a Time to Catch Up With a Long Lost Buddy

With the exception of workers in essential industries, most people have extra time on their hands these days. If you’ve been putting off catching with an old friend you haven’t spoken to in months or years, now might be a perfect time. They’re more likely to have time to chat and you’ll both benefit from the interaction.

Reaching out during the pandemic not only allows you to connect with others, but it gives you an opening if you’ve been feeling awkward about reigniting the friendship. You’ve probably already been thinking about your friend and their safety, so it’s a great time to check in.

Navigate Your Social Connections with Help From A Therapist

We need each other now. Don’t withdraw from your relationships completely. Take time for yourself, but also remember: we can help each other through this.

Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, TX has several experienced counselors that can help you make the most of your relationships or navigating your social connections. If you’re feeling isolated, join our Coping During the Pandemic group where we focus on support and connection. We also offer online sessions for flexibility. Call us today at 832-559-2622 or book an appointment online.

Written by guest contributor Sarah Daren. Sarah has been a consultant for startups in the wellness industry, wearable technology, and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.

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