Connecting with others is proven to be one of the most powerful ways that we can feel safe in the world and maintain a sense of wellbeing. In recent months we've been told to physically distance from each other, and this has undoubtedly had an impact on our relationships and how we connect with the people in our lives.
Many of us may be feeling socially isolated and it can feel as though there is an increased pressure on us to socialise. Some of us might not feel safe enough to meet up in person, while some of us may be craving social interaction. Some of us could be feeling socially anxious after a period of reduced contact, or are stuggling to cope with self-isolation. No matter how you're feeling, it's really important that you look after yourself socially and adhere to the current social contact restrictions in your area.
Many of us will be feeling socially isolated as restrictions change. It's important to remember that we've all faced these difficult times in recent months, and whilst our experiences will differ greatly, this collective experience means that you are not alone in feeling this way.
Engaging with remote socialising might not be the same as face-to-face socialising, but it can certainly help us to feel less socially isolated. Take a look at these ideas for socialising remotely, check out this infographic that has tips for feeling socially connected whilst being physical distanced and this infographic for activities that can be enjoyed within your household bubble.
You could also use this time to build your social network, and think about some of the activities you might do to meet new people as restrictions continue to ease. Joining a society is a great way to meet like-minded people, and engaging with volunteer work will allow you to meet others whilst doing something good!
Some of us might have been dealing with social anxiety before the pandemic and could be finding that this feeling has remained or even worsened, and others may be experiencing new social anxiety. If you're feeling nervous about socialising with the current restrictions, or that you might have ‘forgotten’ how to use your social skills, it's important to remember that you're not alone, and that there is always support you can access.
You may find it useful to ease yourself back into social situations, by starting slowly and with familiar situations. Some activities will feel less daunting than others, so have a think about what you felt most comfortable doing before lockdown. You could start with just meeting one friend, and then gradually build up to meeting more people in line with current restrictions.
If you're struggling having returned to University and living in a busy household with your flatmates, have a look at this infographic for tips on how to look after yourself in a busy household.
If your feelings of social anxiety become overwhelming, it is important that you seek support. The Counselling Service are often a good place to start.
After months of distancing from one another, many of us are yearning for company and craving social contact. As we reconnect, it's important that we stay safe, take precautions, and follow government guidelines.
We need to also be mindful of how others are feeling and what their boundaries are when it comes to socialising. Checking in with one another and having honest conversations around boundaries and social distancing can be really beneficial.
Whilst some friends are ready to meet up face-to-face, it may be that other friends are still unable to meet face-to-face. It's important to nurture relationships with both groups of friends, and this infographic suggests different ways that you can socialise safely, depending on the individual needs of who is socialising.
You may live with someone vulnerable so you're minimising your social contact, or perhaps you don’t feel ready for face-to-face socialising due to your own health and safety concerns. It's important that you look after yourself and protect your own boundaries, and only enter situations that you feel fully comfortable with.
It can be natural to feel pressure to engage with face-to-face socialising. If you aren’t ready to meet up with friends yet, you may need to have some difficult conversations with them around social distancing and explaining why you need to be cautious. It may help in these conversations to be clear and calm, and you could suggest alternative ways that you and your friends can connect. This infographic has some great activity ideas.
Remember, your thoughts and feelings are valid, and it is completely ok if you prefer to take a more cautious approach and take things slowly.
We understand that self-isolation can be a very strange and difficult time. No matter how you're feeling, this is normal.
If you are currently self-isolating within your bubble, it's important to stay connected. This infographic that has lots of activity ideas that you can do in your bubble.
It's also key that you prioritise your wellbeing during this time and seek out support if you need it. This sheet links to a range of wellbeing resources and support services that can help you.
It's also very important you follow and familiarise yourself with the University guidance on self-isolation.