As we heard the announcements today of an extension to the current lockdown, our hearts were heavy for our community.

We know this is an incredibly difficult time for so many, made even harder by the fact that one of the things we do so well as a community during times of crisis – coming together to support each other – is the very thing we are having to limit in order to stay safe. While we may need to physically distance for now, there are still many things we can do to foster connection – to each other, to our beautiful town, and to ourselves. So, we’re putting our normal swimming pool chatter aside for this post, to bring you a few ideas for staying connected this lockdown.

Physically distanced, socially connected

“Social distancing” – it may be just two words, and we all know what they mean, but there is an underlying connotation that, for many, can be tough and jarring to hear. While it is really important for us to follow the rules and guidelines of staying safe during lockdown, a simple word switch can pack a powerful punch on our mindset and mood. Not to mention how we consider connection. Switching our language from “social” to “physical” distancing can help remind us that we can and should still seek out opportunities to feel socially connected. What does social connection look like under COVID-safe regulations? Here are a few of our favourite examples:

Dine In...At Home

Many of us will be missing the special moments of connection in our favourite restaurants and cafes. While ‘dining in’ in the traditional sense might not be an option at the moment, many of our favourite locals have adapted their menus to offer takeaway and delivery options. So, give your fave local restaurant a buzz to check out their lockdown menu options. Not only do you still get to indulge in your fave cuisine, but you’ll also be helping to support our local businesses move through this challenging time.

Get out the board games and the puzzles - it’s playtime!

Feel a little silly asking “how was your day?” at the dinner table when you were literally there to witness every moment of it? Conversations can start to get a little stale when you’re all living and breathing in the same space 24/7. Try pulling out the trusty Monopoly board or hunt down some dice for a game of Yahtzee. A bit of laughter as you roll the dice will see you all filling up that connection bucket in no time and, as a bonus, it can also act as an ice-breaker for those more sensitive ‘check-in’ chats that are so necessary and valuable at this time.

Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, House Party, Messenger, Google Duo - the options are endless!

Yes, Zoom fatigue is a thing…but we’re not talking about connection to your computer through countless hours of virtual meetings or online learning! We’re talking about maximising the tech we have to stay connected with our loved ones who we’re physically cut off from for now, or perhaps even trigger the opportunity to reach out to those who feel long lost (virtual school reunion, anyone?). Whether it’s a short virtual coffee break or a distance dinner party extravaganza, video calls are a fantastic way to connect meaningfully to our loved ones.

Connect through kindness

While lockdown rules mean we can still travel to the shops for our essentials and stretch our legs in the fresh air, this is harder said than done for some of us. And, while we’re lucky to have many delivery options available in our local area, it often means the need to be a little tech-savvy, again leaving some of our most vulnerable stranded. If you’re feeling well and able to support, you might like to consider seeking out some connection by way of lending a hand to those less able. Perhaps it’s a simple gesture like taking the neighbour’s bins out or offering to pick up some groceries. It could be a daily ‘check-in’ call or walking their pet for them if they’re unable to leave their home for now. Don’t forget those doing lockdown on their own. The introverts among us might be ok with talking to their fish for now, but no doubt our solo friends would appreciate the odd check in. Whatever the offer of help, we know it will be appreciated, and you’ll get the wonderful added bonus of feel-good-fuzzies from giving to those in need.

lighthouse beach sunset

Connect Into Nature

We really are so blessed to live amongst such beautiful natural surroundings. And, given outdoor exercise is on the list of essential reasons to leave home, it’s never been a better time to pick up a daily walking routine (or perhaps dust off that bike and pump up its wheels!). Whether you rope in the household to join, ring up a friend to offer up your +1 allowance, or head out for a solo adventure, take the opportunity to connect back into nature – your mind and body will certainly thank you for it. Unsure of the current rules? Check out the official public health orders and restrictions here.

Connect Back to Self

When we think of social connection, we usually assume it has to involve others. But don’t underestimate the power of taking time to connect back in with yourself. Grab a journal and commit to daily reflection writing, run a hot bath and indulge in a soak, or put on your favourite song and dance it out in your kitchen! Whatever your jam, be sure to put some time aside each and every day for some self-care. Finding it difficult to do so? Reach out to your family for some help (a great chance for grandma to show off her new tech skills to the kids on a Zoom and play sesh!), or find an accountability buddy at work or amongst your friends who’ll gently remind you every so often to check out of the to-do’s in order to check in with yourself. Even 5 minutes a day can make all the difference.

Connect With the Professionals

Last, but certainly not at all least, know who is around and how to contact them when you need a little extra support. These times are strange, and overwhelm can hit us at any point. It’s ok to not be ok, and you don’t need to go it alone. Talk to your GP or reach out to one of the below support lines for help:

Mental Health Access Line 1800 011 511 

Beyondblue www.beyondblue.org.au 

LifeLine www.lifeline.org.au 11 13 14

Headspace www.headspace.com.au 

Reach Out www.reachout.org.au

We may be physically apart, but we’re in this together.

Stay safe, stay well, and stay connected this lockdown. We’ll see you back and about in our community soon.

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