What life in lockdown has taught us
If there’s one thing COVID-19 has taught us, it’s the importance of staying connected with friends and family. Here’s why.
The coronavirus pandemic made staying connected to loved ones both more important and, for many of us, more challenging than ever. Distance, lockdowns and travel restrictions all conspired to make spending time with others – at least physically – difficult and, at times, impossible.
On the flip side, making the effort to stay connected moved up the priority list for a lot of Australians. Research conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies to explore life during COVID-19, not only found that nine out of 10 of us contacted family living elsewhere at least once a week at the height of the pandemic, 44 per cent of Australians spoke to loved ones more than before.
But with life getting back to normal all over Australia, albeit a new “COVID normal”, experts are keen to stress that feeling connected to others provides a health kick all of the time, not just during the unique challenges that 2020 delivered. In other words, we should all keep checking in, taking the time to communicate and making an effort to connect with others. Here are three ways to make it work.
Keep leaning on technology
Technology was a social lifesaver for many of us during lockdown in staying connected to loved ones who live a bit further away, and there’s no reason to abandon it now. Use whichever medium you feel comfortable with, bearing in mind research that shows bonding tends to occur best via video talk, followed by audio chat, and finally by trading text messages. Regardless, the more frequently you make the effort to use tech to reach out, the more connected you’ll feel. Still not 100 per cent confident when it comes to putting your devices to good use this way? Check out Be Connected, a government website with free, easy-to-use lessons.
Join a club or group
Staying in touch with friends and family isn’t the only thing that counts toward feeling more connected and plugged in. A study published a few years ago shows that being a member of a social group plays a key role, too – particularly after retirement. It’s one of the reasons why the social calendars at every Ingenia over 55s community are bursting at the seams, with everything from book and bowling clubs to art and craft groups. “The social activities vary from community to community,” says Nicole Jentz, Ingenia’s General Manager of Residential Communities. “And there’s always the opportunity to create a new group based on your interests.”
Create connections within your community
Something as simple as getting to know your neighbours is a proven way of increasing your sense of belonging and connectedness. In fact, according to one study, knowing as few as six neighbours reduces feelings of loneliness – and even the smallest actions, such as saying hello or waving to the people who live around you, can start the ball rolling. “The lovely thing about being a resident of one of our communities,” says Jentz, “is that even if taking part in group activities isn’t your cup of tea, just knowing that you’re living among like-minded people in a safe and secure environment can make it so much easier to get to know the people who live next door.” And, after all, everybody needs good neighbours, right?
Put yourself first in 2021!
2020 redefined how we live, prompting many people to reconsider what’s really important. While we all have different dreams and aspirations, there are a few values we all have in common – that’s the importance of community, finances and lifestyle.