Being on enhanced community quarantine has unexpectedly brought many families closer as they spend every waking hour with each other — which is good. It, however, has cut us off from the rest of our social circles, and the effect on our health, unfortunately, can be devastating.
According toFonta Hadley, a behavioral researcher, being alone goes against human instincts. "We’re social creatures, we’re hardwired for connection."
And we know this to be true. Going into our 5th week of staying at home, we've probably had feelings of sadness and anxiety even earlier on. Left unacknowledged, these feelings will begin to manifest in our physical health.
Thankfully, we can turn to technology to help us get through these tough times. But take note that even in using social media and video conferencing, it's easy to lose the purpose of staying connected when you do small talk.
When you've decided who it is you want to connect with, try these tips to make your virtual conversations more meaningful.
Sure, a phone call will do the job, but being able to see each other's body language and facial expressions in real time make it more intimate. And did you know that the human voice causes the body to produce oxytocin, a feel-good hormone?
2. Actively listen.
Having a conversation online can be awkward at first, and you may even find yourself running out of things to say. Hadley says listening intently is important at this point, because how you reply will determine where the conversation goes.
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She suggests that rather than merely replying, steer the conversation to a more meaningful direction. "It can be as simple as saying, 'That’s interesting, tell me more about that.' If what they talk about isn’t very interesting, suggest some other things to talk about. Ask them questions to dig deeper."
Skip the small talk. Make the most of the conversation by reminiscing on a memory or expressing how important they are to you. Ask them to share their favorite spot in the house, or what they keep themseves busy with when sadness strikes. In short, find out more about the person and really connect.
4. End the call with a hopeful note.
Despite all the uncertainties the COVID-19 situation brings, don't forget to cheer up the other person and leave them with something to cling to. Hope is a gift you can share with the people you love.