Have you fallen down the rabbit hole of pandemic predictions yet? The news cycle these days isn’t so much a cycle as the same segment on repeat: coronavirus, coronavirus, coronavirus. We’re not saying this is a bad thing, every day brings new developments. But it can be hard to stay sane when you’re living off a staple diet of pandemic news without your usual to chew the fat and have a good moan.
Now more than ever it’s important to stay connected with friends and family, while also getting a healthy dose of pandemic news. Easier said than done when it feels like you’re getting pulled under by the unrelenting tide of COVID-19 fallout.
So let’s bring out the rubber dinghy and those orange lifeguard buoys à la Baywatch (remember the slow-mo running with those bad boys in hand?). Here are 5 ways for you to stay afloat, stay connected and stay sane in part 3 of our Lockdown blog series:
Tip #1 Schedule in some face-time
We’re social creatures. From family and friends to gym buds, playdate pals, workmates, you name it, old John Dunne was right, “no man is an island”. It was the 17th Century so we’ll forgive him for not being inclusive. But now it seems we are all islands thanks to social distancing.
Bridge the divide by scheduling in regular video chats. Be specific, pick a day, pick a time, pick a bunch of friends or family to get together with and make it a part of your routine. If you don’t pencil it into your diary, it’s all too easy to let it slide as you juggle work, the kids, the pets and everything else.
If you’re thinking, “my gran can’t work a smartphone”, then try setting up Zoom or Skype on a Kindle or basic tablet for your elderly loved one. For smartphone savvy pensioners, you can try WhatsApp or FaceTime; Age UK has straightforward instructions you can guide them through. Or if you want to keep things really easy, you can order a KOMP, a one-button computer for video calls made especially for anyone who isn’t familiar with digital technology.
Tip #2 Join the NHS army
The most vulnerable members of our society will be feeling especially isolated and afraid, from the elderly and disabled to the chronically ill. For many, the informal support networks they relied on will have fallen to the wayside. You can make a difference in their lives and feel more connected to your local community by joining the NHS volunteer army. This includes ‘check-in and chat’ volunteers who pick up the phone to talk to isolated individuals.
Currently, and rather delightfully, they are not accepting applications due to receiving over 750,000 applications, but they plan to reopen soon.
Tip #3 Turn to your digital community
Struggling to find fresh grocery deliveries locally? In desperate need of some new ideas to keep the kids entertained? Want to help those struggling in your community but don’t know where to start? Find the answers you’re looking for by joining local groups on Facebook or Nextdoor.
Tip #4 Limit how much news you digest
It’s important to stay up-to-date on the pandemic even if only to make sure you know what the latest rules are for social distancing and self-isolation. But with 24/7 news channels and endless stories to click through online, you could soon find yourself overwhelmed by the news and playing out worst-case scenarios in your head.
So limit yourself to checking the news once or twice a day for say, 30 minutes. Stick to reputable outlets. Want to get a general overview of what’s going on? Check out the dedicated coronavirus section on the BBC. Want to know the latest numbers for the UK pandemic? Check out Public Health England’s case tracker (you can zoom into your local borough).
Tip #5 Go old school with snail mail
The good old Royal Mail is still going. So why not bring a smile to someone’s face with a handwritten letter? You may find the experience of writing it — slowing down your mind to match the pace of your pen — is actually quite therapeutic. Why not go nuts and write a whole stack to your nearest and dearest? Royal Mail sells books of stamps online and you can even jazz it up with themed stamps. Then pop your letters into your nearest postbox and wait for the happiness to arrive.
Lockdown may keep us physically apart but we can still feel connected, it just takes a new approach. So give these tips a go and don’t forget to check out parts 1 and 2 of our Lockdown blog series, 4 ways to make working from home work for you and 4 ways to stay healthy in body and mind.