Reopening and Reconnecting
With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, it has given us the chance to socially reconnect with people we may not have seen in a long time. While this is an exciting stage in our lives following the lockdowns, it may also be quite overwhelming for some. We have been socially isolating for a long time and the transition to reconnecting with others may take a bit of time to readjust.
The Wrkit Global Working From Home (WFH) Survey gathered feedback from employees who were WFH across many countries during the pandemic. This has allowed for a deeper understanding about the challenges and benefits employees faced while WFH, particularly the impact on employees living away from their home country. The survey revealed that many people WFH in their home countries did at times feel lonely but also rated feeling more connected to friends and family than feeling isolated.
Researchers have found that there are a wide range of benefits that stem from regularly connecting with others, particularly others we care about. For example, it has been discovered that social connectedness helps improve quality of life, relieve harmful levels of stress, boost mental health, and significantly decrease the risk of suicide.
Tips for Avoiding Social Isolation and Staying Connected
- Check in with People You Know
When you’ve been isolating, it’s easy to feel that people you know are doing just fine and may not like to hear from you. This is a common reinforcing negative loop brought on by loneliness, and it’s usually untrue. Challenging these negative assumptions is an important first step and it is better to just go ahead and reach out to people you know and see what happens.
- Practice Self-Care
It goes without saying that if feeling isolated or lonely it is important to maintain a good level of self-care. Finding time to be social, alongside time to rest well, eat well, getting exercise and taking adequate breaks all combine to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Getting back into being social again can mean more alcohol intake, late nights and rich food; so best to be mindful of balance as you readjust to an open society again.
- Choose the Right Living and Working Situation
If you are working from home and living alone and are finding that you are struggling with isolation and loneliness, take action to make changes and see what the options are. Although you might not be able to move house, or your normal working office space may have changed, it is important to plan ahead and find ways to meet with colleagues in person. This could be booking time in the office as it reopens or planning social gatherings.
- Develop Friendships at Work
Work relationships can help you to feel more connected to others. Overall, people with better co-worker relationships have lower self-reported loneliness scores. Ask a colleague if they would like to go for a coffee or, if you’re working from home, make the effort to give them a call rather than an email and share some casual chit-chat.
- Find Ways to Participate in Your Community
Social groups like book clubs, choirs, and sporting groups are a great source of social interaction. Anyone can feel isolated at times and, while this is ok, everyone can benefit from community and group participation.
- Keep a Journal
If you find you are struggling with feelings of social isolation, try writing down the thoughts that are going through your head. Then make a list of things that you enjoy doing and bring you happiness. These can be simple, small things like going for a walk, reading, or listening to music. When you notice negative thoughts and feelings creeping up, have a look in your journal and try one of your suggestions.
It’s important to remember that just because you are feeling socially isolated and alone does not mean that you are alone. There are people that care and want to know how you are feeling. There simply are times that you might have to make the first move and although it may be challenging, it’s proven to pay off in the long run and staying connected is good for everyone.