Creating Social Connections through Quarantine

Our need for human connection is so powerful that it is essential to our physical and mental well-being. In fact, there is a neurobiological link in which we are “hard-wired” for connection. Now more than ever we need friendship. Not only does it help deter from social isolation, it helps boost mood, has physical health benefits, aids in positive coping, provides emotional support and encouragement, and can motivate us towards success. 
Many people are finding some creative ways to create social connections through quarantine. Check out these ideas on ways to connect (or-reconnect) with others. 
Ideas to Form New Social Connections
  • Identify areas of interest and possible opportunities for connection. Check out opportunities online or ask others for ideas or invites to existing groups. If no group exists, consider starting your own!
  • Strike up a conversation and develop friendships with fellow online gamers.
  • Join a support connection group. NAMI offers connection groups, LGBTQ+ connection groups, young adult connection groups, and parent groups.
  • Find a way to make a difference in your community by giving back to local businesses. Get to know the names of those you encounter from a safe distance.  
  • Let others you newly “meet” know you listen and care. Pay attention to details of their lives such as children’s names, pet’s names, hobbies, and interests.
Ideas to Maintain Current Social Connections or Reconnect
  • Check in with friends and family, especially those who may be more prone to social isolation through phone calls or virtual meetings.
  • Mail a letter or care package that includes a note of gratitude or personalized gifts such as a handmade craft.
  • Create fun things to share on social media that can help boost mood and provide some comedic relief.
  • Maintain participation in groups such as educational groups, business networking, faith and community-based groups, physical, and social activities in a virtual environment.
  • Set up a virtual coffee hour, lunch hour meeting, date, or happy hour with friends, family, or colleagues. Get creative with virtual backgrounds to create a fun environment that matches the meeting.
  • Arrange to walk at the same place at the same time. Smile and wave at each other from afar while talking on the phone.
  • Go through your contact list. Don’t be afraid to take the initiative to let your friends, family, co-workers, and contacts know that you are thinking of them.
  • Follow up with those who reach out to you.
Ideas to Connect with Others at Home
  • Take advantage of more time at home you may have with family or roommates and invest in those relationships.
  • Develop a deeper emotional bond with your partner by being available and curious about their thoughts and feelings. Share your hopes and dreams.
  • Set aside time in your daily schedule opportunities to connect. Creating fun rituals within mealtime such as “Taco Tuesdays” or a “Family Potluck” where each person draws an item to make (e.g. appetizer, soup, salad, entree, dessert) can make these times feel more fun and encourage interaction.
  • With so many of our connections online, try tech-free options at home to bring others closer without distractions such as family game night or scavenger hunt challenge. Take time to just sit and talk. Laugh together.
Some final thoughts…
Professional counseling help may be beneficial if barriers such as social anxiety/ fear of judgment or decreased interest or pleasure impacted by depression are present and impacting the ability to connect.
For those of you who find yourselves as the person that everyone seeks for support but may be experiencing emotional exhaustion, take time to take care of yourself and create boundaries while balancing home, work/ school, and interpersonal relationships.
If you are enjoying your time on quarantine but feel guilty about this, know that it is OK to hold space for conflicting feelings.
For those of you who struggle with seeking out support or asking for help, now is a good time to practice! Just knowing that we have a need for connection and that many are struggling with social isolation can help.