It’s an unprecedented time in the world right now.
Most of us have had to adapt to extensive changes in the way we work. Some of the biggest companies in the world such as Amazon, Twitter, Morgan Stanley, and others have implemented work-from-home policies to ensure the health and safety of their employees.
This, of course, has forced many workers to additionally make changes to their personal schedules, as in many cases, they now have to juggle a workload with managing a household that may be filled with children who are home from school.
But the changes go beyond the usual 9-5 job, of course. Some of the biggest changes have been to the way we live: from protocols that must now be followed when shopping at the local grocery store to the way we interact with loved ones during a period of quarantine.
Such changes are enough to discourage and/or weigh upon just about anyone. With no end currently in sight to this ‘new normal,’ it’s not surprising that so many individuals around the world are experiencing stress at an all-time high.
But it is possible to weather challenging times with confidence and peace of mind—you need only build up your resilience. Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ and recover quickly from challenging and/or difficult times. It’s what keeps your can-do spirit high and what fuels your determination to press forward and maintain your vision even when times are uncertain.
The good news is that anyone can build up their resilience, and one of the quickest ways to do so is by boosting your ‘social support.’
What is social support?
Our current global pandemic has heavily impacted the way we normally socialize with family, friends, and colleagues.
‘Social distancing’ has quickly become the norm, and simple gatherings for birthdays or Sunday dinners or even a simple coffee with a friend are, in many cases, simply not possible at the moment.
Social support, however, is crucial in maintaining resilience. Resilient people maintain relationships with family, friends, and people they connect with to share the burdens as well as the triumphs of life. It helps to have a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear to air your worries to, and a friend to help carry the weight of a troubling time.
Just as well, it’s uplifting to also have those with whom you can share good news as well as celebrate with and laugh with.
In fact, studies have shown that individuals with a strong network of friends outlive those without one!
Social support during quarantine
For many of us, an onsite job provided us with the opportunity to socialize regularly with our colleagues, thus enabling us to meet that inner need of belonging, community, and healthy bonds with others.
Even outside of work, many of us were no doubt accustomed to enjoying friendly conversations with neighbors and acquaintances at the local grocery store, post office, bank, or farmer’s market. These brief interactions, while seemingly small matters, helped us to feel connected to others and additionally allowed us to feel ‘seen.’
The current pandemic has changed this way of life unfortunately, which begs the question: Is it possible to build up and/or maintain a strong social network even during a time of global quarantine?
The answer is: yes!
Fortunately, we live in an age where we’re more interconnected than ever thanks to the internet, so there are more ways than ever to maintain healthy relationships with others even from your own home.
Staying connected from a distance
Platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts are more popular than ever now that so much of the global labor force is working from home. These platforms offer a way for companies to continue business as usual through video conferencing that gets workers as close to a typical meeting as possible.
The good news is that these platforms aren’t just for companies. They can be used as personal accounts as well. While most of us rely on phone calls and text messages to stay connected with our loved ones, video conferencing is the perfect solution when you’re craving the missing element of a face-to-face conversation.
The best part is that these platforms are free to use. You can invite a number of participants to take part in each video conference, making it the perfect digital home for your next group hangout with family and friends.
SOCIAL MEDIA GROUPS
Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram) in general has always been a great way to stay updated on the lives of those you care about while sharing updates of your own.
But Facebook and LinkedIn in particular are excellent ways to join topical groups that will connect you with like-minded individuals who share interests similar to your own. And with millions upon millions of groups available across both sites, there’s truly something for everyone.
You’ll find groups for just about anything and any person: women entrepreneurs, dog lovers, stay-at-home moms, vegans, CEOs, bloggers, public speakers, online marketers, movie enthusiasts, antique collectors, survivalists, etc. Simply type in a keyword of interest into the Facebook or LinkedIn search bar at the top of your page, and you’ll find a treasure trove of possible groups to join.
Once you’ve joined a group, strike up conversations and interact with others. Identify individuals you’d like to develop friendships with and support their posts by writing thoughtful comments that invite conversation.
DISCUSSION BOARDS & FORUMS
When your mind craves stimulation via healthy discussion, consider turning toward the many online forums available across the internet, the most popular being Reddit.
Online forums are essentially message boards hosted online that allow users to hold conversations in the form of written posts. There are forums for any number of interests and topics, opening countless doors for those who are looking for ways to build new friendships even from home.
A simple Google search is sure to yield a number of results for your topic of choice. ‘Discussion forums for business owners,’ for instance, provides a wealth of results that can point you in the right direction and help you get started.
It’s the perfect opportunity to not only build new relationships around common interests but also network with other professionals who may share business goals similar to your own.
We live in the age of online streaming, and while physically gathering together with friends to binge-watch shows or host movie nights over snacks and light-hearted conversation is no longer possible for many, that doesn’t mean this much-loved hobby has to be shelved indefinitely.
Enter: Netflix Party.
It’s a free extension for the Google Chrome browser that allows you to watch a Netflix movie or show at the same time as your friends/family. Apart from synchronizing video playback so that you’re always on the same page as each other even if someone hits pause, Netflix Party also integrates group chat in a convenient sidebar so that you can still have the feel of a real-time conversation and enjoy staying connected with those in your group.
With over 1 million users, Netflix Party has been a great way for people to stay connected through a fun activity—even if they’re thousands of miles apart.
One of the most important things you can do to strengthen your resilience is devote time and dedicated attention to building up and maintaining a strong social network.
In challenging times, this social network will be an invaluable wellspring of encouragement, inspiration, and support. And because of that, you’ll find yourself better positioned to weather the difficulties in life and more motivated than ever to continue forward and stay the course.
Do you currently have a support group that you can lean on during challenging times? If so, how can you reach out to them more using the ideas above? If not, who are some people you can begin to reach out to today or places online where you might be able to find like-minded individuals to connect with?
Remember, we’re in this together—so let’s reach out to each other, strengthen our bonds, and give and receive the social support that can make all the difference in the world.