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Keeping socially connected

Alice Davies is a Care Coordinator at homecare company Caremark (Leeds), who in her spare time uses her own struggle with mental health to write a blog www.aboutalicemay in which she shares her experiences and provides advice to others who might be struggling. Here she explains why, with the Covid-19 restrictions slowly being lifted, it’s become even more important to reach out to family, friends and work colleagues.

It would be a massive understatement to say the past 12 months have been the most challenging and testing in recent memory. Covid-19 has altered our lives in a way we could not possibly have imagined back in March 2020 when the enormity of the virus became apparent. If 2020 and the first few months 2021 have taught us anything, it is to concentrate on what is really important and how to appreciate and enjoy the smaller things in life. It showed us how important it is to socially interact with others, to be able to laugh, chat and spend time with loved ones, albeit it in a socially distanced or virtual way.

For so many of us this past year has been spent trying to change and adapt our ways of living to be happy and content with ourselves. To enjoy our own company. To try and make do with what we have in our own little bubbles.

The strain that the many lockdowns have had on people’s mental health is worrying. It has left many of us unsure how to cope with the never-ending uncertainty of what is going to happen next. For so many people the anxiety of not knowing when this will all be over is getting too much, and even now with a roadmap in place it will be difficult for many to accept that we are over the worst of it and that life may be able to return to normal, whatever that means now.

So, even if things are starting to open up again, it’s important we all continue to look after each other in these trying times. This pandemic has left many people feeling lonely and extremely isolated from the outside world, and for some that won’t suddenly change just because we’re getting some of our freedoms back.

Did you know that the average number of social media accounts was 8.8 per person in 2020? How many do you currently have? Perhaps it’s time to think about opening that TikTok account!

Here are five things Alice recommends to help yourself, or someone you love, to stay connected - if you’re not quite ready to return to ‘normal’.

Exchanging handwritten notes or cards with loved ones.

Technology has been a life saver for so many families during this pandemic. It’s allowed us to feel so much closer to family and friends, however there is something magical in taking it back to basics and handwriting a loved one a letter instead. When was the last time you received or sent a letter?

Start a new hobby with a friend.

For many of us, hobbies are where a lot of our social interaction happens. Whether you enjoy painting and you belonged to an art class or you enjoy reading and you went to a weekly reading group. These things can still be done via the wonder of technology and I’m willing to bet that most people have become used to FaceTime, Zoom, Teams or whatever other video calling software you have been using over the last 12 months.

Embrace social media.

Whether it’s Twitter to keep up with breaking news, Facebook to share updates with your friends and family or Instagram to see photographs of your favourite things, there’s never been a better time to use social media. Did you know that the average number of social media accounts was 8.8 per person in 2020? How many do you currently have? Perhaps it’s time to think about opening that TikTok account!

Pick up the phone.

Many of us have got used to sending messages to people via text or WhatsApp etc, but when was the last time you picked up the phone and had a long chat with someone? The art of conversation is very much alive and for many people, particularly the older generation, the phone is all they have. Try getting your children to spend more time on the phone with their grandparents; it will make the world of difference to the person on the other end of the line.

Venture out.

You may not be ready to return to the pub, eat in a restaurant or go to the cinema just yet, but with spring upon us, there’s every reason why you should still try to get out as much as possible, given you have spent the last 12 months staring at the same four walls, and going on the same, permitted walks. So, arrange to meet someone in a park. Take a picnic and spend some quality face-to-face time in the great outdoors.

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