During this time of social distancing in response to COVID-19, families with children are under pressure in numerous ways. Parents and children are both adjusting to life outside of the norm, with new schedules and severely constricted social circles. Meanwhile, many families are even struggling with financial hardships and other negative impacts that jeopardize stability. Amid this uncertain time, it’s just as important—if not more so—for you to stay connected to your social network, even while keeping your distance physically.
Emotional Benefits of Being Connected
Inevitably, social distance often leads to emotional distance from your trusted loved ones, colleagues, and peers. Even though it’s not a perfect substitute, virtual interaction with your private social network can help with this problem. There are several emotional and psychological benefits to staying connected with your go-to social support system while sheltering in place, which include:
1. Stress Relief
First, social connectivity and positive emotional experiences with your trusted family members and friends can relieve stress. During times of adversity, Psychology Today notes, positive emotions activated by social interactions may have “both a protective and restorative function that quells the effects of distress and fear, fosters recovery from stress, and contributes to resilience and stress resistance.”
Simply contributing to a virtual discussion with your peers or family members or chatting with another person outside your household while you cook, clean or go for a walk can boost your mood. This is always true, but it becomes especially critical in a time where it is one of the few interactions you can have with someone outside your immediate household that’s not work-related. Venting, laughing, sharing ideas, and expressing your emotions—positive and negative—with a trusted source can facilitate adaptive coping during this unusual time.
2. Alleviating Isolation
Feeling isolated or disconnected from your community can be detrimental to your health and wellbeing. Humans have an innate need for a sense of belonging, love, and shared values with others, and social connectedness is important for both your mental and physical health. Some of the health benefits of staying connected include a stronger immune system; improved memory and cognitive skills; increased motivation for self-care; lower levels of stress hormones; and more prevalent feelings of happiness and acceptance.
3. Intellectual Stimulation
Another benefit of staying socially connected while sheltering in place is intellectual stimulation. When you interact with people with shared interests, your mind is challenged to articulate your thoughts and opinions and contribute to meaningful dialogue. If you are part of book clubs or discussion groups or taking a class with your peers, you also cultivate a deeper understanding of that specific material or topic.
There’s no reason to curtail those group meetings just because you can’t get together in person. You can video conference with your entire group at one time for a book club meeting, movie viewing, game night, homework session, or other mentally stimulating activity. Although it takes getting used to the different format, the mental benefits are just as tangible.
4. Entertaining Your Kids
The advantages of social connectedness extend to your children, as well. Video conferencing with friends, classmates, and relatives gives them the opportunity to interact with other adults and children and receive the attention and stimulation they’re used to getting at school. You can set up virtual playdates with members of your social network and take turns with other parents to read books or facilitate a game. When the activities are hosted by other parents or family members, you get a little bit of a break to recharge or do something you enjoy for 15 or 20 minutes.
Your support group may also have ideas for fun activities you can do with your children, family, or even neighborhood. It also gives you a chance to share ideas or recommend resources that have worked for you.
Establishing Your Circle of Go2s
Although your normal socializing activities are paused while you practice social distancing, you still have emotional needs that require human interaction—particularly with the friends and family members you love and trust. Virtual interactions through video conferencing, phone calls, and messaging are not quite the same as socializing with someone face-to-face, but they can still provide the emotional resonance you need during this time. With Go2s, you can connect with your most trusted relatives and friends and discover how to extend your support network even while you keep your family safe at home.