Student Tips

The Importance of Social Connection: Ideas and Tips During Lockdown

20th April 2020

Life as we know it has taken an unprecedented turn (a buzzword phrase, I know) in the last few weeks and months, resulting in challenges surrounding many aspects of our daily lives. Most importantly, it’s presented the struggle of remaining socially connected during lockdown. 

Keeping in touch with friends and family (the people you love and trust) is so important for your overall health and well-being. Maintaining relationships with these people is a priority. But how do we do this when the current lockdown requires us to be inside most of the time?

It simply means we have to be more creative – and perhaps more intentional – when it comes to our social lives. Luckily, you’re a creative human being at a creative institute! So, hopefully, the following tips and ideas will help you get started…

Be Intentional With Your Time

This concept can be helpful in many areas of life. Setting priorities and goals – whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly – is something that is beneficial and probably agreed upon unanimously when it comes to your career. But, how often do you set social/relationship priorities?

The author of the book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam suggests splitting your priorities into three categories: career, self, and relationships. The idea behind this is that when you plan your week you set out two or three priorities in each category, leading to a more balanced use of time. Being intentional with our relationships is so important during lockdown as we have lost all the chance encounters we normally have – i.e. you can’t just bump into a friend after uni and decide to go for a drink or coffee.

Take the time to plan digital social occasions throughout the week. Set up a time to Skype or Zoom call with a friend or some family members. It’s important to maintain a social life during lockdown, and, although it may seem like more work, it will greatly benefit your happiness and well-being. This is definitely worth the extra planning!

Online Moai – Adapting a Concept From Some of the World’s Happiest People

The Japanese definition of Moai is “meeting for a common purpose” and originated from the social support groups in Okinawa, Japan. Fun fact: it’s also the name of the big statue heads on Easter Island.

Moai is a cool concept I’ve learned about during this lockdown. I discovered it when I was listening to a podcast about the Blue Zones Project (areas with the highest levels of happiness and longevity). I could easily digress here, so I’ll just suggest reading up on Blue Zones as they are fascinating.

Anyway, one of my tips would be to create a digital version of a Moai in lockdown times. This could be forming a small group of around five people who regularly meet up on a Zoom call at agreed times throughout the week. During these meetings, check in on each other, chat about common interests and share your own advice about how to get through the lockdown. If someone doesn’t show up to the meetings, then call them. It’s important to know that we are needed and that we have a responsibility to the group as it generates feelings of purpose and community.

These feelings are vital to maintaining happiness – and they are easily lost when we don’t have the option to leave our flat. Usual events, gigs and gatherings are no longer there, so take time to build community and responsibility as it will improve how you feel and how others feel too.

Still confused about Moai? Here’s an anecdote to give you an idea:

During the Blue Zones study in Okinawa, Buettner attended a meeting of five local ladies who were part of the same Moai and whose average age came to 102! They gathered every night, drank sake, and chatted about “the hot guy, who they liked best in 1941”.

It’s that simple! Just remember to call if someone doesn’t show up to the agreed times – let them know they are needed and important to the group.

Quick-Fire Ideas

As the last concept was fairly in-depth, I thought I’d finish this blog post off with some quick-fire ideas/suggestions for maintaining a social life during lockdown:

  • Digital café – I’ve been having late morning coffees with my parents (who are in Scotland) over Whatsapps video calls. Try setting up a coffee and chats with friends and family – it’s calming and adds a sense of normality
  • Wine and cheese nights – my parents/extended family have been doing that over video calls, so I stole that idea from them
  • Set up Zoom discussion groups – talk about an album of the week with friends, favourite podcasts or films/series, or set up an online book club (thanks for the idea Liv – check out her brilliant blog posts for BIMM)
  • Attend the BIMM-run events on Zoom – the Student Support Team have put together a schedule of group chats, Brewshack sessions, mentor chats, mindfulness sessions and other events. So, don’t be afraid to get involved

It’s important to remember that you’re never alone in these times. If you need support or advice during this lockdown – or you just want someone to talk to – our friendly and experienced Student Support Team is here to help. You can reach out via your college’s dedicated Student Support email or send us a DM across our social channels. 

Author

Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly is a graduate of the Professional Musicianship Guitar course at BIMM Brighton and current student mentor. He is also passionate about all things health and wellbeing, and writes a weekly blog called 'Mind Matters' (Follow @chriskelly.91 on Instagram for music and blog updates)