20 April, 2020

Socialization in Isolation

The novel coronavirus has changed how we work and live. However, there are many ways to maintain a healthy routine and social contact for you and your loved ones while staying safe at the same time.

 

Maintaining a positive and energizing pace of activity in your household is possible thanks to numerous high-tech and non-high-tech resources, even if you are in self-isolation or quarantine. It will be some time yet before things return to normal for Canadians, but here are some ways to reduce the social impact of the global pandemic:

 

Maintaining regular social interactions

Social distancing and quarantine practices have made engaging people outside your home difficult, but not impossible. Whether or not you’re technologically inclined, there are resources available to help you connect to the outside world.

  • High-tech solutions: The various platforms that allow for virtual real-time interactions (Skype, Twitch, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, etc.) and streaming content (YouTube, Facebook Live, Instagram) are not new, but current circumstances have led to an increase in their use worldwide. If you feel technologically inclined, it’s never too late to learn how to use a new application. The various activities made possible by these technologies include group chats, virtual family dinners, group games, live-streaming religious services and “watch parties.”
  • Lower-tech solutions: Technology can be fun, but it can be challenging to coordinate at times. A simple phone call can be an easy way to break up the day. Try scheduling some real-time conversations with people outside your household. It doesn’t just have to be about ensuring the health and well-being of loved ones: just maintaining verbal contact with people outside your household every week can provide some sense of normalcy.

A new meaning to work-life balance

The shutdown of schools and non-essential businesses around the country have disrupted the home and work lives of most Canadians. However, there are some ways you can maintain a productive schedule amid the new reality.

  • Keep a routine: If you find yourself in home isolation, try to maintain regular everyday habits. Maintaining regular sleep and work hours, dressing in “business casual” attire and getting as much physical activity as is possible will help you stay productive. If you have school-aged children and/or elders in the home, help them maintain this regularity too.
  • Telecommuting: If you’re usually an office worker who now telecommutes, take advantage of today’s technology to stay in touch with your colleagues face to face (using tools like Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc.). We live in exceptional circumstances, so inviting colleagues into your home in this way can be acceptable, even if you have other members of your household occasionally popping into the frame.
  • Maintain balance: When you work from home, there may be the temptation to work longer hours to make up for lost productivity, perceived or otherwise. Accept that the pandemic reflects a new reality for all of us, and that productivity levels and timelines may be different in these trying times. Take breaks, and try to set up a cut-off time between work and your home life. 
  • Activities and curriculum: If you have school-aged children, keeping a schedule of educational and recreational activities will help them adjust to staying at home. In addition to any learn-at-home programs your province or territory has provided, consider also exploring resources already set up for homeschooling parents, which can provide additional support and ideas. And just as the working lives of Canadians have to adjust to a new reality, educational officials around the country have recommended a similarly patient approach to our expectations around how children need time to adjust to and perform well in a new educational environment.

Celebrating significant events

It’s likely your household will miss one or more milestones, such as birthdays, vacations, anniversaries or even major life events such as weddings. However, just because we can’t celebrate events in our traditional manner, doesn’t mean we can’t be creative in finding different ways to remind ourselves what’s important.

  • You don’t need a reason to have an “event”: Halloween in spring or summer? Why not? Planning a themed day or night for no genuine reason can be a way of taking your mind off our various stress factors. Whether you have a household with young children, just adults, or even just yourself, you can make anything into an event. This can also include semiformal family dinners at home, watching movies or TV shows with a common theme or any excuse to dress up or decorate the home, regardless of the actual season.
  • Alternative celebrations: Think about creative ways of marking celebratory events without breaking your social distancing practices. For example, if you have a young child who will be missing a birthday party, think about coordinating with other parents to use any of the aforementioned technological resources to have a virtual party. Other ideas include calling a senior living alone from just outside their residence where they can see you or singing happy birthday in a conference call.

Maintaining a close connection with friends and family during this crisis is important to your overall well-being. What’s “normal” has changed significantly for almost everyone, so don’t be afraid to think of creative ways to continue to engage with the outside world and recognize what’s most meaningful to us.