Social distancing – from service users to supporters

Louise Bolton, manager of the Family Support Project, has written a blog to help people cope with social distancing. Louise has been putting content together for our service users to help them cope, and we thought it might help our supporters too.

Social distancing is hard! Whether you are used to going out and socialising, or having people over, the changes to the way we live are challenging for us all. Let’s face it, a connection of one kind or another is hard-wired into us humans, whether connection to other people for the extroverts among us or connection to nature and the great outdoors for those of us who need to recharge by spending time alone. Usually, in times of uncertainty, we can get stronger and feel supported by our sense of connection and yet here we are in a global pandemic being asked to do less of what we love. However, all is not lost!

Now is the time for being creative and finding new ways to connect with other people and the world around us. All across SSJ, teams and services are adapting to innovative ways to support people, and there is no reason why we shouldn’t practice what we preach and try some of these things ourselves. So here are some ideas for staying connected, whilst socially distant:

Connecting with others If you get strength from your relationships with others you might like to try some of these things:

  • Download video calling apps such as Zoom or Skype and have (almost) face-to-face contact with people you already know
  • Join an online forum related to some of your interests, or a local Facebook group to chat with others and share ideas for how to stay occupied
  • Go old-school and send a letter! Letter writing is pretty cathartic, and who doesn’t like getting mail?

Connecting with nature Perhaps you’re missing the great outdoors. With government guidelines to take only short exercise and as locally as possible, you might notice the absence of long countryside walks or picnics in the park. Perhaps you could try these things:

  • Herbs or small veggies can be grown pretty easily, even if you don’t have outside space. You can save the seeds from tomatoes or peppers and grow on a sunny windowsill. 
  • Try to get outside at least once a day for a walk. Practice being present when you’re out and about; pay attention to the sounds around you and the changes spring brings. I have noticed a lot more birdsong recently.
  • If you’re spending lots of time indoors, keep a window open and try to get as much natural light as possible, both of which are essential for overall wellbeing and a good night’s sleep.

Connecting with yourself Now might be a really good time to practice spending time meaningfully when alone if you don’t usually get opportunities to do so. For lots of us, the stripping back of our normal lives has illuminated what is important. Perhaps you could try some of these things:

  • Journaling can be a really useful way to reflect on how we’re feeling, what we have been doing and what’s important to us. There are no rules, just try writing something once a day about what’s going on for you
  • Take some time to think about what you have gained from social distancing. Perhaps it has focused your mind on what is important to you, or allowed you to try new things. Maybe it’s been really difficult and you have thought lots about what you are looking forward to most when the measures are lifted.
  • You could take a trip down memory lane and look back at old photos, diaries or maybe even school reports! Spend time thinking about hobbies or interests that you might want to reignite or perhaps places you would like to go again in the future. 

We hope this helps our supporters as much as it is helping our service users. Stay safe, stay well, stay at home. We will get through this.