Technology can help you maintain social connections if you’re staying home during the coronavirus pandemic, an expert says.
“When using technology to stay connected, prioritize keeping deeper, meaningful connections with people,” said Stephen Benning, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Benning suggests using Skype or other video messaging to see and hear from people who are important to you. An old-fashioned phone call will let you maintain vocal connection, and your favorite social media site’s messaging app will let you keep an individual or group dialog going.
“In these deep, close, personalized connections, it’s OK to share your anxieties and fears. Validating that other people are concerned or even scared can help them feel like they are grounded in reality,” he said.
But don’t stop there, Benning added.
“Use these deep connections to plan out what to do, to take concrete actions to live the lives you want,” he suggested in a university news release. “To the extent possible, share hobbies or other pursuits together if you’re shut off from work or other personal strivings for success.”
Hold book clubs on speakerphone or group meetings on Zoom. Find online versions of bridge, board games, role-playing adventures or other diversions. Make a date with friends to watch a show or movie on TV or streaming media, and share your reactions on a group chat.
Curate playlists on music sites to share with your friends to express your current mood or uplift one another. Organize a creative group to write, paint or do other artistic activities. This is a good time to use shared courseware to learn new skills, Benning added.
If you find your anxiety levels rising due to an overload of coronavirus information, take a break from news about the pandemic.
“As a first step, you might disable notifications on your phone from news or social media apps so that you can control when you search for information rather than having it pushed to you,” Benning said.
Other options include: using the muting options on Twitter, snoozing posts or posters on Facebook, or filtering words on Instagram. You can also set an alarm or use an app or browser extension to limit the time you spend online and then turn your device off.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the new coronavirus.