Date of Publication: 25 March 2020
The past few weeks have certainly brought about a lot of change, and for many, this includes having to study from home and remain socially distant from some of our nearest and dearest. It can be a tricky time adjusting to a new way of living, and so we’ve got some top tips to help you to maintain your social life whilst embarking on a remote and online education.
1. Create a schedule
Just like you would dedicate study breaks and some of your free time to socialise with your friends, the first thing you should do is create a schedule for your new daily routine to ensure you’re not sacrificing either your studies, your socialisation or, personal downtime.
A good way to begin is by mirroring your routine at school. Start by scheduling a few hours of home study in the morning with short breaks to refuel, setting aside an hour for lunch where you can call friends or get outside in the garden or for a walk, before a few hours of online learning in the afternoon. Then, dedicate some time in the evening to catching up socially – whether it be family you’re at home with, long-distance relatives over the phone, or a group call with your closest circle of friends.
If you’ve scheduled it into your routine, you shouldn’t go a day without keeping in contact with those you wish to. Make sure you share your schedule with those around you so they can respect your new study routine, and try to find a time that is mutually agreeable for the both of you to talk.
2. Play with technology
Since most of the world is now facing new physical social challenges, there are plenty of companies who have come to the surface who offer great communicative technologies. Apps such as Zoom, Skype and Whatsapp all offer a group video calling mechanism, and are free and easy to use. One particularly popular app is House Party, which even has games that you can play with friends and family!
3. Don’t forget those around you
Unless you’re self-isolating on your own, you probably have friends, family or carers with you at home right now. Remember to spend quality time with them – No matter how much you may get annoyed by small niggles, you’re all in this together, and should try and appreciate the time you do get to spend with one another.
4. Don’t forget to reach out
If you’re having a bad day or the pressures of social distancing are really getting to you, don’t forget that you can always reach out to your friends or family and tell them how you’re feeling, just as you would if you saw them in person. Even if you just want them to sit there and listen, a comforting ear and reassurance will make you feel a hundred times better than bottling everything up inside.
There has never been a better time than now to reflect on your connections and reach out to your long-distance friends and family who you may have recently lost contact with. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your close family, so it may be refreshing to talk to someone you haven’t seen in a while and spend time catching up with how they’re doing.
6. Explore methods of communication
If you’ve found yourself with some spare time, why not try a new way of communicating? If you can’t be with a relative, why not send them a letter in the post to brighten their day? Or if you’re away at university, you could try mixing up your communication and sending them a short video summing up how you are – rather than the usual quick text message.
7. Create virtual study groups
If you can, try setting up a session every few days with your friends and study together via videocall. Not only will you be able to keep in contact, it may encourage you to think differently about topics, with your friends bringing new ideas and fresh perspectives.
Ensure it’s productive though – you don’t want your study time to be muddled with social time, or you may not get any work done!
8. Don’t force it
Communication is natural. It’s part of who we are. Just because you’re apart doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with someone. If you want to reach out to someone, do. Perhaps not a call if they’re busy, but there’s no harm in sending a text to show someone you’re thinking of them. If you want some time to yourself and set boundaries, don’t be afraid to do so and ask your friend to call you back later. This can be an intense time for everyone, and taking the time to look after yourself should not be frowned upon.