In this time of voluntary self-isolation, I've been trying to do a better job of keeping in touch with loved ones. My family has been sharing some positive and compassionate things on Facebook (one of the reasons I still love that platform so much!). My great uncle shared a conversation he had with my second cousin and his wife Alicia. She made a great point:
"Words matter. We should be talking about physical distancing rather than social distancing. We need to be creative about how to interact socially. We need the social connections."
It's more important now than ever before that we stay connected to other people. That we reach out in one way or another to those we love. It's time to support our community members as they face obstacles, barriers, and challenges. It's up to us to show each other kindness, warmth, and compassion.
Here are just a few of the many ways that we can work to increase our connections as we decrease our physical closeness to one another.
Ways to share love from afar
In this digital and technological world, there are many different ways to stay in touch with the people that you care about. If you are in need of internet access during this time, there are some options being made available, including free access for low income families (you may have to call and request it) and free WiFi hotspots .
Face Time, Skype, Zoom
Use this time to video call your friends and family. Keep them updated on what you've been up to. Share arts and crafts projects, talk about books and movies, and just enjoy hearing their voice while you get to see their smiling faces!
I know that it might seem silly to say, but this is the whole reason why phones were invented in the first place, to hear each other's voices. I absolutely love sitting down on the couch or in a comfy chair and having a nice long conversation with a loved one. And a fantastic benefit is that they're not going to see what you're wearing, so you can stay in your PJs!
Texting, messaging, emailing
Texting and messaging is fantastic for sending a quick "thinking of you" message, photo, GIF, meme, etc. Emailing is great for sending stories, updates, and longer forms of conversation.
These are so much fun for families, co-workers, and friend groups. You can also create themed chat groups where you only share cute animal photos, or motivational quotes. Most of the time my phone is making noise, it's because I'm receiving messages from my Taco ladies group chat.
Through the mail
You can leave letters in your personal mailbox for the mail person to pick up, or you can drop them off in a public mailbox near you without having to come into direct contact with another human. Sending boxes and larger envelopes can get a bit trickier while trying to stay self-isolated, but if you can hand deliver, that's even better.
People love receiving cards and letters in the mail! It's so much better than the junk mail and bills that we're all used to. Use this time to write a letter to a friend or family member, or pick up a new pen pal. You can write a person in an assisted living facility, a prisoner, or someone halfway around the world.
Pictures and drawings are another fantastic thing to share. If they're small enough or fold-able, you can fit them in a regular size letter or card envelope, making them just as easy to mail. Send some happiness and joy to someone who needs it. Maybe a homeless shelter, assisted living facility, or a local prison.
Sending care packages
Care packages are easiest if you can deliver them directly to the person's doorstep, no need to pay to ship! Are there any elderly neighbors who could use a box with some necessities, that way they make less trips to the store? What about a friend who's children just had weeks of school canceled, and could really use some arts and crafts supplies? Did you find the last store in your county that has toilet paper? Maybe you can drop a couple rolls off on your co-worker's doorstep, because they mentioned to you that they were running low. Pay attention to those around you, and try to do what you can, within your means, to help them out.
Ways to connect to others
Offer to help your friends, family, and neighbors if you can. Make grocery store, pharmacy, and restaurant runs for the elderly, immunocompromised, or parents staying home with their children. Mow your neighbors lawn after you finish mowing your own. Or you can sing or play music for/with your neighbors, like they're doing in Italy. Even the littlest things can help.
Share positive or distracting things on social media
Be careful with this one. It's pretty easy to get overwhelmed with all of the news coverage of the coronavirus. And it's hard not to feel scared or angry with everything that's happening right now. But if you choose to use social media platforms to share positive stories, lovely pictures, and compassion, it can do a lot of good for a lot of people. I have a friend who has decided to post at least one happy picture daily, in order to help raise people's spirits. My family tends to share stories of empathy and love. My close friends and I share pictures of our craft projects to encourage each other, or videos of animals to make each other smile and laugh. College of Hope is committed to continuing to share uplifting quotes and happy pictures, to do our part in keeping social media positive.
Experience an online or streaming event
There are so many fantastic examples of this happening right now! Concerts, opera, Broadway plays, movies & TV shows, tours of museums , zoos and aquariums , national parks , poetry readings, cooking classes , artists creating art, indigenous films , celebrities reading books for children , and animal cams (the Live Jelly Cam from Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of my favorites!). Many churches are live streaming worship services as well. While you watch or participate digitally in any of these many adventures, remember that you are doing so alongside hundreds and thousands of other humans. Pretty neat, right?
Participate in a class, book club, or forum
Use this time to learn and grow with others. Find or create a book club. Join an online class. There are many self-paced and free options available. You can learn almost anything! College of Hope is working on making some of their classes available online as well, so keep an eye out for that announcement. Participate in a group or online forum discussing one of your passions or hobbies. Converse and communicate with people who are learning and sharing alongside you!
Finding support when you need it
If you can afford it, and aren't already seeing a therapist, this might be a good option for you. The benefits of online counseling is that it is incredibly flexible. And if you find yourself experiencing elevated levels of stress or anxiety, it might be a good idea to reach out to a professional for support.
Online peer support groups
Its a good idea to research the organizations that offer these support groups before taking advantage of them. Stick with organizations that you know, or that are recommended to you by someone you know who uses their services.
If you or someone you know is currently experiencing a crisis, please reach out via a crisis phone line or crisis chat.
In need of housing or other resources: call 2-1-1
Experiencing an emotional crisis and/or considering suicide: call 1-800-584-3578 (Snohomish, Skagit, San Juan, Island, & Whatcom counties), call 1-888-910-0416 (Clallam, Jefferson, & Kitsap counties), call 1-800-273-TALK (other residents of WA state), or chat online http://www.imhurting.org/
Teens in crisis: in Snohomish county call or text 425-877-5171 or email firstname.lastname@example.org , nationally text SAFE and your current location (address, city, state) to 4HELP (44357) for immediate help
Victims and survivors of domestic violence: call 1-800-799-7233, for support for deaf and hard of hearing call 1-800-787-3224, or text LOVEIS to 22522, or chat online https://www.thehotline.org/
Victims of human trafficking: call 1-888-373-7888, text HELP or INFO to 233733, or chat online https://humantraffickinghotline.org/chat
Veterans crisis line: call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, for support for deaf and hard of hearing call 1-800-799-4889, or text 838255, or chat online https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/chat
If you or someone you know needs help, don't hesitate to call. If you don't know where or who to call, and someone is in immediate danger, you can call 9-1-1. If it isn't immediate danger, but you or someone you know needs help, you can also call your non-emergency police line. Please make sure to take care of yourself, and when you can, take care of each other too. We're all in this together!
At College of Hope, our thoughts are with everyone right now, dealing with the current situation in their own way. We hope you are able to find connection during this time of physical distancing. And we hope that the ideas and links in this article have helped in some way. Please share your favorite ways you've found to stay connected in the comments.
I'll leave you with the lovely words of Rupi Kaur , she's says it more beautifully than I ever could: