So what can you do if a friend or colleague finds themselves in central quarantine or medical isolation? We often feel helpless to watch a friend struggling, and want to support them but aren’t sure how.
Keep the lines of communication open. A simple check-in with a ‘how’s it going’ can help your friend feel connected. Tina* tested positive after returning from Hong Kong and she felt staying in contact with friends through the isolation ordeal was important to keep her grounded.
“I had so many people checking on me everyday and it really lifted me up. There were times when I didn’t feel like replying straightaway and my friends understood. I didn’t have a lot to do, so I scrolled through my WeChat Moments and I felt so jealous of everyone living their lives. When they would write me, I felt like I hadn’t been forgotten. When I felt up for it, I would get back to them and it was nice to know they were there when I needed to complain or cry.”
Besides just calling and texting your friend, a few other ideas to keep them connected:
Keeping Friendships Connected Through Isolation
By Amanda McNeice & Melanie Ham
Creating something with your hands is very therapeutic. Crafting together while video chatting is the next best thing to being together, or maybe posting progress pictures can keep each other motivated. Finger knitting, doodle drawing, crochet, cross-stitch, etc. Our friends at Civilita have even been offering online free drawing classes during lockdown.
Listen to a podcast series
Have a favorite? Leave it in the comments!
Remember when we used to watch TV episodes and chat incessantly about them before the next one released? This may give you both something to talk about beyond the daily situation- even if just swapping a few voice memos when you have time.
There are live online classes or recorded videos you can use to workout together. Maybe you both like it or maybe you both just laugh at the online instructor.
This is not to be underestimated; laughing does great things for our brain chemistry. Bounce your friend a meme or a video. A good belly laugh is good, but sometimes the most we can manage is a wry smile, and for some days that’s ok too.
There are things like Words With Friends to play asynchonously, and others like Uno, chess, or trivia, where play together in an app. Raise the stakes by setting a leaderboard goal and the first one to reach the score will choose the restaurant where you’ll celebrate their eventual freedom. It’s nice to have something to look forward to when the days blur together.
Offer to help entertain their kids
Offer to help entertain their kids for a while so they can take a little break. We came up with some ideas here.
There are lots of guided meditations online, or in apps, which vary in length, call your friend and listen together.
Ask what they need
Ask your friend what they need from you. Do they prefer texting or daily phone calls? Are there outside errands you could offer to help complete? Can you coordinate a delivery of their favorite things? Knowing there is support around them to check-in and follow-up is extremely valuable.
When you do catch up, try to listen more than talk and avoid giving them a lot of advice. They may not need a solution to their predicament (although maybe a solution to get markers off of walls may be necessary!), and just feeling heard is validating.
If you feel your friend is really struggling to cope, you can also encourage them text Lifeline to speak with someone about how they are feeling. Lifeline offers free, confidential, anonymous listening services.
(Due to Convid restriction, phone line currently not in operation until further notice.)
Additionally, the Community Center Shanghai is offering one free online counseling session to those who are currently in isolation or lockdown. It can really help to get some professional support.
If you are in isolation, or have been, PLEASE share what helps, as it may inspire others with ideas – drop us a note or leave a comment.
*All names in this article are changed for privacy.