Staying connected while we are physically distancing is a new skill that we are all learning and like all new skills, we need guidance to master them. Many of us may feel lonely at this time, which is why it is more important than ever to stay connected. 

So how can we stay connected while keeping the community safe? Below are six tips to help protect ourselves and others while still following government advice on social distancing:

      1. Start using apps

Now is the time to download some new apps to help you stay connected with others. Popular messaging apps include Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and if you would prefer to meet face-to-face popular video chats include Skype, Zoom and FaceTime.

      2. Use social media

Social media is a great tool to contact friends and keep up to date. However, be conscious of mindlessly scrolling! Many phones have a social media timer built in to limit your time spent on individual apps.

      3. Understand your friends’ communications style 

There are lots of different ways to keep in touch while socially distancing. However, be mindful that not everyone likes the same method of communication as you – or is free when you are. Ask your friends how they like to communicate – if they prefer text messages, phone calls, or video chats. Communication doesn’t need to be a big event, it can be as simple as sending a funny meme. That alone can have a positive impact on someone’s day!

Bonus Tip – Get creative by sending your friend or family member a good old-fashioned letter. Receiving a kind, handwritten note from a loved one can have a tremendous effect on a person’s day!

      4. Do something together

“How can we do that?” I hear you ask. Just because we can’t physically be together, it shouldn’t mean we stop hanging out. Schedule a time to watch a movie or have dinner with a friend while chatting with them on the phone. Zoom trivia nights are a blast with your friends! Doing the same activity while you’re chatting eliminates the pressure of talking and ensures you spend some quality time together in a relaxed way.

     5. Carry out your hobbies using a different method

Hobbies help you to focus your mind on doing something you enjoy and are a great way to relieve stress. Unable to get to the gym? Join an online fitness class or watch a workout tutorial on YouTube. Longing for a girls’ night? Schedule a group chat. Wishing you could hear some live music? Lots of artists are live streaming on Facebook, which is essentially a free concert in your living room.

If you are unable to continue your hobby from home, this is the perfect time to start a new one. You may enjoy baking, painting by numbers or escaping into a captivating novel.

     6. Reach out and ask for help 

It’s also essential to ask for help when you need it. You may feel anxious, overwhelmed, or isolated by the changes in your life during this time. This may be as simple as phoning a friend or family member to chat about how you are feeling. If you have an urgent need for help with your mental health, contact one of the helplines below.

National helplines:

  • Lifeline (24 hours): 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline (24 hours): 1800 55 1800
  • MensLine Australia (24 hours): 1300 78 99 78
  • SANE Helpline (mental illness information, support and referral): 1800 18 7263

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