How to Connect During Self-Isolation

Temwani is a third year science student at UBC.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed many of us in novel and challenging circumstances. Physical isolation has been, and for many continues to be, a new reality of living in these times. As humans we are naturally social beings, and social connection helps foster and maintain mental health. Even for those of us who are introverted, the idea of being isolated from those we love and care for is extremely hard to grasp. However, it is important to follow the advice of health professionals in order to combat this pandemic. But this doesn’t have to be an unbearable time. Below I’ve made a list of things that will hopefully help you feel connection to others, yourself and more during self-isolation.

Reach Out

Making a point to maintain positive relationships during a quarantine period is helpful to combating and even preventing loneliness. Technology offers us a great way to stay connected to the people we can lean on for support. Whether it’s Zoom, FaceTime, or a text message, reach out to friends and family whenever you can. This is also an opportunity to get inventive—try connecting over online games or movies, “having dinner” together virtually, or “meeting up” for an online exercise class.

Remember consistency is key. It may seem a little unromantic, but I find scheduling a specific time to reach out to specific friends/family members keeps me accountable. It also gives both parties something to look forward to.

Reach In

Many of us are artistically challenged, and by us, I mean me. Fortunately, with no one around this is a great time to get artsy without any judgement. Whether it’s trying out watercolours/crochet/tie dye; giving time towards artistic interests can be extremely rewarding. It is particularly beneficial in alleviating stress and anxiety. Being in quarantine can be both stressful and anxiety inducing so there has never been a better time to release your inner artist and make some personal memories all your own.

Once you are confident in your works of art, you may consider gifting some of your pieces to friends and family. Doing things for others can also be surprisingly beneficial for your mental health. My pieces have yet to reach presentable standards, but one day…

Reach Beyond

Technology has become an invaluable way of connecting with others, but there have been drawbacks to always being on a device, especially during this time. Limiting screen time can help to improve your mood and enhance your relationships. There is a ton of anxiety-inducing news available at the tips of our fingers, and although it is important to keep engaged and stay connected, it is also important to take time to pause and reflect.

I have personally been drawn to reading as a way to disconnect from our crazy reality and immerse myself into completely different worlds. Revisit a favorite book series, read something brand new, or try writing a tale of your own! If you’re looking for something to read this fall season, I recommend:

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things- Iain Reid
  • The Shining- Stephen King.

Reach… Literally

The benefits of exercise are well documented; beyond the physical benefits, exercise acts as a great stress reliever and mood enhancer. Home workouts are plentiful on the internet and YouTube is a great source for finding these videos. UBC Recreation also offers some great online programs.

If I’m honest, exercise isn’t always my favourite thing to do, so I find ways of making it enjoyable for me. One way I draw myself to exercise is making fun playlists to listen to (Cardi B is heavily featured) or downloading one of my favourite podcasts to tune into. (Check out The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos).

Feeling connection can come in many forms, and quarantine can be an unexpected time to explore! Follow what makes you feel good, and soak up the spare time with these ways to feel connected to yourself and others, real or imaginary!

There are many small steps you can take to support your mental health –during self-isolation, and year-round. Check out thrive.ubc.ca for more on how to foster and maintain mental health, or sign up for the Wellness Centre online to connect with Wellness Peers and learn strategies to support yourself.