I think you'll agree with me when I say it's been a really challenging 4 months.
For many of us, our lives have completely changed.
Millions have lost their jobs or their business has shut down.
Millions of others are working from home for the first time.
Schools were shut down early, and for many, they remain shut, or will be offering a hybrid model where you can choose whether your kids attend virtually or in person.
With all of this uncertainty of things being shut down, and people being shut in, human connection has really declined.
And with it, our mental health has taken a toll as well.
For me, I'm used to working from home. I've been doing it for over 10 years now. However, being restricted as far as where I can go has taken a toll on me as well. I'm used to being able to go to coffee shops to work, and to a gym to workout.
Coffee shops and gyms are where I get my social interaction. They are my homes away from home. But with businesses like these, along with restaurants and bars being shut down for weeks, even months, connecting with others has been a real challenge for everyone.
There's only so many times you can watch reruns of the Gilmore Girls, or puzzles you can play before you really start to go crazy. Eventually we all crave connecting with other humans. It's how we're wired.
Human connection is such an important part of our mental health. It's an important part of our happiness. So it's crucial to learn how to stay connected, even in a virtual world. Here are some tips and ideas that you can use in order to maintain that human connection we all need.
1) Virtual Happy Hour
When we first got locked down by the quarantine, this was one of the first things I did - I held a virtual happy hour for my Fit For Photos online coaching group. Who doesn't love a good happy hour, right? Just grab your favorite drink, log into Zoom with your friends and co-workers, and presto - your virtual happy hour is born. Of course, it's a great way to stay connected with friends, but companies have also been running virtual happy hours for their team. It's a great way to increase happiness in the workplace and for employees to get to know each other better on a more personal level.
2) Virtual Games
There are so many games you can play virtually nowadays. Again, these can be either with your friends, family members or co-workers. One of my favorites that I've played with a company I work for is JackBox TV, a part of the JackBox Games brand. It's home to a bunch of party and trivia games. They are hard to describe, but so much fun.
Of course my new favorite virtual game to play is my very own Grateful Game. It's a deck of cards with 120 questions to spark meaningful conversations. Each card has a question or a prompt - think of these as ice-breakers or conversation starters, designed to get you to connect with other people on a deeper level. You can play with your family including your kids, or your friends. It can even be a part of your virtual happy hour. Get a group together, login to Zoom, and pick a random card from the deck to act as your conversation starter.
3) Virtual Movie Night
Netflix rolled out a feature that allows users to view movies and TV shows together in realtime. You set up a time with your friends to watch the same thing on Netflix at the same time. It includes a chat feature, so you can have conversations with your friends while you're watching. I haven't tried this yet, but it sounds fun. So grab some popcorn, round up your friends and pick something to watch. But please, no "Tiger King."
4) Virtual Book Club
Who doesn't like a good old fashioned book club, right? Except instead of reading a book and meeting in person with some wine and discussing the book, you do this online on a Zoom video chat. Again, you can combine this with a virtual happy hour. In fact, it seems like all of these van be combined with a virtual happy hour...except the next one.
5) Virtual Races
Unfortunately a lot of races, 5Ks, marathons, etc., have been canceled. Fortunately, many organizations have turned their races into virtual events. So you can now do a virtual 5K and continue to raise money to support charities and local communities. Check out this St. Jude's Run/Walk virtual event happening in September 2020.
Bonus Tip - Outside In Nature
This article was about human connection, but I do want to point out that getting outside and connecting to nature can also have profound mental health benefits as well. When you may not be able to connect with other people, get outside and connect with nature instead. I can't tell you how many times over the past 4 months I've gone outside and spent time by mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, trails, woods and waterfalls. It's helped my mental health so much. Try it out!
About the Author
Scott Colby is an adventure lover who has always created businesses around his passions. Although he has spent over a decade in the fitness industry, helping people create transformations, it was a trip to Guatemala that inspired him to create his latest brand - Say It With Gratitude.
Say It With Gratitude is on a mission to make everyone feel appreciated through the power of gratitude. We spread our message to individuals and businesses with thank you cards, T-shirts and live experiences. We also help companies grow their business with gratitude!