How to deal with social isolation

How to deal with social isolation

by Andrea Byaruhanga

Updated November 9, 2022

For most people, this year has been a little challenging. Who are we kidding? It’s been awful. With a global pandemic that no one could have predicted, we’ve been forced to change so much in our daily lives. 

One of the biggest changes for many of us has been the social isolation that has come with COVID-19. Trying to keep ourselves and others safe means that we haven’t been able to see friends and family as much as usual (or not at all).

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To make sure you and the people around you stay safe, connecting through technology is the best thing to do right now. If you’re looking for some ideas on how to connect, read on!

Phone or video calls 

Having a regularly scheduled phone call or video chat with friends or family is a great way to stay connected. By having an event like this on your schedule – daily, weekly or whatever works best for you – you’ll have something to look forward to without having to do much planning. If just sitting and chatting isn’t your thing, consider turning your Zoom chat into a themed virtual dinner or drinks night! 

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Virtual game nights

You might love having video chats with friends and family but find that you don’t always have much to talk about. If that sounds like you, try out a virtual game night. Gather a few friends, choose an online game like this one and add a little fun to your regularly scheduled chats!

Online classes 

If you’re finding yourself with extra free time and you want to do something productive, consider an online class. By signing up for a virtual class (to learn how to dance, cook or speak a new language, for example), not only will you connect with others online, but you’ll be able to learn a new skill at the same time. 

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Group chats

For whatever reason, you may not like video chats. No problem! You can stay connected through text. Set up a family or friend group chat on WhatsApp so you can easily share texts, voice messages, photos or videos whenever you feel like it. 

Virtual workouts

Many of us haven’t been getting enough exercise recently. When you’re stressed, lonely and stuck inside, who can think of fitness? Well, exercise can be a great way to boost your mental health – and a way to connect with your friends! First, find a streaming workout you like (you can find lots of free videos on platforms like YouTube, YMCA360 or Life Time Athletic, to name just a few). Then, start a video chat with a friend, and enjoy working out together!

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How to explain how you’re feeling (and ask for help)

Despite our best efforts to connect online, those isolation blues can be hard to overcome: Feelings of sadness, loneliness and depression are normal.

It can be really hard to reach out for help, but you’re not alone. Chances are that if you tell someone else how you’re feeling, you’ll realise others have felt the exact same way – and they may be able to help.

When you reach out for help, try to be as clear and specific as you can. First, tell the person you’re speaking to what’s wrong. Next, if possible, tell them how you would like them to help you. Below is some of the vocabulary to get you started. 

Expressions to talk about your feelings when in isolation

Going through a tough timeExperiencing a difficult time
StrugglingTrying very hard to do, achieve or deal with something difficult
StressedWorried or anxious
DepressedExtremely sad
Not coping wellNot dealing with or solving your problems well
Feeling offNot feeling like you usually do
Not feeling greatFeeling unwell

Ways to ask for help

I could use your help with . . . 
I could use a hand with . . . 
Do you have time to talk?
Could you help me out by . . . 
Are you free for . . . 
Would it be okay if . . . 
Maybe we could . . . 

Putting it all together

Now that you have the vocabulary, here are some examples using the expressions above: 

I’ve been going through a tough time lately. Do you have time to talk?

I’ve been struggling the past few months. Are you free for a Zoom chat tomorrow?

I’m so stressed. I could use a hand ordering my groceries tomorrow. 

I’ve been depressed recently. I could use your help making sure I exercise regularly.

I’m feeling off these days. Would it be okay if you sent me a text every now and then to check on me?

I haven’t been feeling great for the past few months. Could you help me out by scheduling a regular phone chat?

I’m not coping with isolation very well. Maybe we could do a virtual workout together.  

Keep the connection – even in isolation!

It’s normal to feel sad, anxious or helpless right now – there have been so many changes and so much uncertainty. The most important thing is to stay connected to others however you can. Talk to others regularly, reach out when you need help and don’t forget that we’re all in this together!

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