Social isolation is not ideal. It’s not good for our individual physical health, mental health, or the global economy. But right now it must be done for the collective wellbeing.
When cinemas, bars, restaurants and malls close down and we’re obligated to stay inside, we need to find new ways to keep ourselves entertained. However, it’s not just the entertainment that we miss. The lubricant that keeps all of those things flowing and energised is something that is vital to our experience as human beings: social connection.
Over the coming weeks and months, we must maintain some form of social contact and we stay active and engaged in life.
It may not seem like it at first glance, but even the most individual hobby usually has some relational aspect. Consider reading a book for example. We may do it alone, but we’re interacting with someone else’s human story, the characters, the emotions, the experience. The same is true of movies, video games, sports, and almost everything we do online.
This social distancing scenario is a nuance, but it’s also an opportunity for growth. Anyone who has followed the news lately will have heard the phrase ‘unprecedented times.’ Which is true, this situation is completely novel, but so is the amazing access to content and community that we have with the internet and modern technology.
The following list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s intended to hopefully inspire some of your own ideas for managing boredom and continuing your personal development during social isolation.
Without further ado, here are 7 ways to make the most of social isolation.
#7. If you can’t go outside, go inside. I saw this on an infographic the other day and I loved it. Social-isolation is the perfect opportunity to begin a meditation or yoga practice. You’ve got the time to do so, and a good reason (you’re probably feeling pretty restless), so why not get started? There are a ton of teachers offering free meditation and yoga classes through Zoom and Skype.
#6. Learn something new. Almost everyone has a skill or area of knowledge that they’ve considered learning at some point. Unfortunately, when we are busy, life gets in the way. With YouTube, Udemy, Skillshare and dozens of other independent online teaching studios, there’s no excuse not to do so. Maybe it’s a new language. Maybe you’d like to learn basic biology, physics or chemistry. You could try and learn how to dance, draw, paint, or play an instrument. There are also thousands of documentaries about every topic imaginable. Now’s the time.
#5. Pick up a book. Whether you consider yourself a reader or not, this is an opportune moment to start on a new book (or listen to an audiobook). If you’re already reading, then maybe it’s time to switch from fiction to nonfiction, or from science to history, crime to sci-fi. Check out goodreads or amazon for some suggestions.
#4. Find your digital tribe. There are hundreds of thousands of online groups with different interests. Reddit is a great place to start, but you can also do a simple search for your interests in Facebook groups, or a google search for independent community forums. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in gardening or sports, pottery or drones – there’s something out there for everyone.
#3. Make someone else feel less lonely. The best way to get out of your own head is to shift your attention to someone else. Depending on who you are, social isolation generally ranges from an inconvenience to a severe stressor. No matter who you are, it’s safe to assume there are people out there who are hurting more than you right now. Anyone who lives alone, is elderly, disabled, lives in a rural area or suffers from depression could use someone to talk to and there are volunteer services in your country that allow you to do just that.
#2. Have a digital detox day. All this Coronavirus news is stressful. Being bombarded with updates every moment of the day is not healthy, particularly when it starts to go on for weeks and months. Choose days of the week to have a detox from all digital content and do something else. If this is difficult for you – or you’re limited by your work – you could start with an hour or two and try to build it up to a day.
#1. Do whatever you’ve been putting off. Everyone has something they’ve been putting off. Maybe it’s something you really want to do but don’t have the time, like writing a book. Or it could be something you’ve been avoiding but now have the time to do, like your finances. Either way, self isolation is a great opportunity to give yourself the time and space to get important things done and feel good about it.
Have you tried any of these? Got some of your own ideas you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!
Ben is an author, psychotherapist and the creator of Project Monkey Mind, a blog that helps people manage depression and anxiety and find peace and calm through meditation. He holds an MSc. in Applied Neuroscience from King’s College London and a Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Queensland.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.