The stress of long-term social distancing is real. Over time, it can lead to feelings of isolation, which can take a toll on your health and well-being. The inability to come together with family, friends and colleagues can lead to physical, emotional and even cognitive stress. Fatigue and depression are common symptoms of isolation, and new research has compared the health effects of social isolation to be the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
Women in particular need to make a concerted effort to stay connected during these difficult times. For many, the struggle to juggle work-from-home deadlines with family needs and obligations can be overwhelming as social distancing continues with no clear end in sight. While you can’t control the duration of social distancing, you can regain some of the human interaction you crave. Here are some ideas to stay connected while you’re at home:
Connect With Your Peers
Your co-workers are a big part of your life and you might be grieving the loss of the face-to-face interactions you previously enjoyed with them. Video conference tools such as Zoom, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams make it possible for you to video chat with your peers for a base touch that’s not meeting related. Make it a point to reach out to your co-workers or employees via video each day to reconnect over a virtual coffee break or perhaps even a virtual happy hour.
Connect With Your Intellect
Reading is a great way to escape and come together. Many community groups and bookstores offer virtual book clubs where you can get together with like-minded bookworms eager to discuss literary works. Like traditional book clubs, you’ll meet regularly for discussions, but online video meetings replace face-to-face talks—at least for now. Tufts and Wheaton College both offer virtual book clubs for their alumni, but you can also find them through your local library, town or adult education program.
Connect With Your Friends
Since you can’t have a girl’s night out, try scheduling a girl’s night in. Netflix Party lets you connect with friends while you’re all watching the same Netflix show or movie. For a less structured gathering, use Google+ or Skype to host a virtual get together. Devices like Alexa Show, Google Home Hub and Facebook Portal can all be used to drop in on friends digitally for impromptu video chats. And for a new twist on your favorite games, TechRadar pulled together a list of creative ways to play your favorite board games online with friends.
Connect With Your Health
We know that food is medicine and for women who have underlying medical issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure, nutrition can keep you on a healthy track during isolation. There are many online services you can tap into for video-based nutrition counseling. An online nutrition counselor can provide advice and support for staying on track with diet and health goals. For sound nutrition guidance, seek out a registered dietician who will have RD, RDN or NCCA-certified credentials.
Connect With Your Network
Many association groups are offering virtual meetups to help you forge new partnerships and gain valuable contacts to advance your career. For example, the Boston chapter of the American Marketing Association is holding virtual mingles for its members. BNI, the business networking and referral organization, is promoting online chapter meetings. Use this downtime to re-engage with association groups you’ve lost touch with or to explore a new group from the comfort of your home office.