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#FridayFive: Five Ways to Stay Connected in Isolation

Friday Five

I’ve started to talk about the ‘rona quite a lot recently. On Monday, I blogged about what it’s like to live in isolation with flatmates. On Wednesday, I wondered if remote working is going to become the new normal.

Last week, I talked about having a front row seat to my first comms crisis and watching how brands dealt with the pandemic. I also talked about how the pandemic was impacting me being on a J1 visa in New York.

Today? I’m talking about ways to stay connected during isolation. You probably know that I’m currently in New York on a working visa. I’m thousands of miles from all of my friends and family, but right now, being connected with them is more important than ever.

As the Beatitudes said, ‘Blessed are those with good wifi and the ability to facetime’. At the touch of a button I’m able to see any of my family or friends’ faces and chat to them about their day.

In today’s world, we are more connected than ever before and have the tools to stay in touch with whomever we choose. How lucky are we?

1. FACETIME

The most obvious contender. If you have an iPhone, then there will be no need for me to explain Facetime. If you don’t have an iPhone, well that’s just weird.

Facetime is a wonderful thing. Just today, at the time of writing this post, I had a Facetime call with my friend Liam while I sat on my New Jersey bed in America and he sat on his in Leeds, England. There were no glitches, no freezing, no audio problems and no connection issues. Just a seamless conversation.

I think the ability to be in constant contact and see people’s faces at any time eases the feeling of homesickness. I am yet to feel any sense of homesick because I talk to my mum every single day, video call with my dad the odd time and speak to my friends on a daily basis.

I’m always kept in the loop of what’s going on at home, so most of the time, it feels like a part of me is still there, while I’m able to live my best life in New York (read: isolation).

2. ZOOM GROUP CALLS

A few weeks before the news of coronavirus broke, we had began the transition from Webex to Zoom conference calls in work for our weekly team meetings. While in the office, we were just using audio and not video. Once we began working from home, this all changed.

If you haven’t recently heard of Zoom, those who had shares in the company before remote working became the new normal are now pretty filthy rich. Everyone’s using Zoom. It gives the ability to hold group video calls with as many people as you like.

Outside of the office, Zoom can be used to meet up with family members and friends. What I’ve noticed (aside from everyone sharing their group calls on their Instagram stories) is that more and more people are having virtual quizzes via Zoom.

It can be a fun activity at the weekend or on a Friday night, for the whole family to come together, have a few drinks and socialize with each other virtually. We’ve attempted the group quiz and I’m a huge advocate.

3. IMPLEMENTING THE 6FT RULE

For those people who are used to seeing members of their family on a regular basis, the new isolation rules may be hard to follow. For grandparents, they may be housebound and feeling very lonely.

A way of getting past this is by going to visit your family members, your gran and even your neighbours by standing far enough away from the front door or window and conversing this way.

Some people have even chosen the drive-by option. If you can, pull up to someone’s driveway and chat to them from the comfort of your car. You’re maintaining the 6ft rule but also offering some social interaction and company for a little while.

4. KEEP SOCIAL ON SOCIAL

As much as I like to bash social media on occasion and blame it for negatively effecting mental health, it does have its benefits. It allows all of us to connect with one another.

From your best friend to your next door neighbour to your politician to Gary Lineker. If you want to chat, get online. There are many memes on there to keep you occupied and Buzzfeed quizzes that will help you pass the time.

I’ve seen so many challenges that have started since isolation, and in a way it’s helping us all come together and giving us something to do. I’ve seen the push-up challenge, the run 5k challenge (which I begrudgingly completed this week) and the down a pint challenge (I happily did not partake).

Our screen-time is probably seeing a huge increase right now as we have more freedom to go onto our phones. It’s not the worst thing in the world, and in a way we now know more about our friends and family than we ever wanted and have seen the inside of everyone’s houses.

5. KEEP COMMUNICATING

One thing you shouldn’t do during this time is shut off. Don’t disconnect from the world at the time when we need connection the most. Check in with your friends, your family, your colleagues and your neighbours.

A lot of us may be feeling quite scared and anxious about what lies beyond our front door, but try your best to stay as upbeat as you can. Chatting to your mum might feel a bit laborious at times since literally nothing is happening or changing, but it’s still a conversation that might pick you up for the day or might do her the world of good.

Keep chatting, keep checking in, keep tweeting and keep talking. Don’t bottle up what you’re feeling because more than likely, everyone is feeling how you are right now – scared and anxious about the future.

Stay connected.

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