The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in ways few of us could have ever imagined. The mass shut down of events, schools and organizations; the bare shelves resulting from the run on grocery stores; the recommendations and even restrictions against travel; and the common site of people wearing medical masks and gloves in public places makes it feels like we are living a plot from a sci-fi movie, and yet it is real.
This surreal reality has even changed our vocabulary. “Social distancing,” something most of us had never heard of until a few weeks ago, has even become a common phrase in our personal conversations.
In these anxious and uncertain times when we have been told to practice social distancing, it becomes critically important that we up our game at emotional connecting. We do not have to be in physical proximity to stay close to people we care about; we just may need to make a little extra effort.
- Enjoy a real conversation with someone. Don’t just text. Take the time to make a truly personal connection by phone or, even better, have a “face-to-face” chat by FaceTime, Skype or Zoom. This can be especially meaningful to older adults who are at even greater risk of becoming socially isolated because of the unprecedented precautions put in place to protect them from the virus.
- Have virtual get-togethers. Set up group chats, calls, or video conferencing with friends, family or colleagues.
- Write a letter from the heart. There is something uniquely meaningful and touching about sharing our feelings in written form – something the other person can read again, and again, and save forever as a reminder of your connection. While there is still nothing that feels quite as special as finding a handwritten letter in your mailbox, in these days of expecting communication instant gratification, sharing our sentiments via email will do in a pinch.
We are sharing this experience as a community, a country, and a world. We are in this together and we will get through it as long as we reach out to comfort and support one another. So, perhaps during these days of social distancing, we can even use this blog as one more opportunity to strengthen our emotional relationships by continuing the conversation. I invite every reader to use the comments section below to share your suggestions for ways to stay connected.
By Jacki Post Ashkin, MSW, LCSW-C
Director of Community Connections, Jewish Community Services