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Tools to help you stay connected during coronavirus

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One of the challenges of coronavirus is the lack of interaction that lockdown and social distancing creates. However, no matter how far you are from the people you miss, there are several ways of staying connected during this time. We’ve taken a look at some of the most popular platforms for socializing, as well as some more alternative ways of connecting to help you through this pandemic.

 

Video platforms

If you’ve been attending online lectures you might already be familiar with video conferencing platforms. Zoom, in particular, is a popular tool that’s free to use and enables you to speak with others who also have the programme. Although video tools can’t provide the same level of interaction as in real life, they provide a simulation.

 

So, why not get a group of friends together for a virtual dinner party or a quiz night? If you use it for your studies, you can also record your lectures in case you miss anything or want to recap on a particular point.

 

Skype is another well-known and free video platform, connecting people from all over the world. These two tools are similar, but you might find that you have a personal preference for one over the other, so give both a go and see which works best for you.

 

If you’ve got a smartphone, you can also see the faces of friends and family on your phone using WhatsApp video call. So, if you’re out for a stroll or waiting in a supermarket queue, why not have a quick catch up on your phone?

 

Both platforms are great for making you feel as though you’re seeing other people and socializing, even if it’s not face-to-face. This type of interaction is so important for your wellbeing and is even associated with having a stronger immune system. If you’re struggling with lockdown, try to reach out to others as they may be feeling the same way and could do with some contact, even if it is virtual.

 

Instant messaging

There was once a time when messaging was restricted to SMS texts to one person at a time. Now that instant messaging platforms are so easy to use and readily accessible, we can stay in touch with lots of people all at the same time, in one free app. Although the novelty of a group chat can dwindle because of endless streams of messages and a constantly pinging inbox, we shouldn’t take this platform for granted. You can reach out to multiple people without needing a long phone conversation. You can also send pictures and videos to keep people updated and involved in your life.

 

Social media

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter often receive criticism as there are obvious downfalls to a life based around social media. However, at a time of a global pandemic, perhaps we can gain a new appreciation for such tools. Most of us are accustomed to the functions of these world-leading networks, but are we really making the most of them? Instagram, for example, is a great resource for seeing what other people are up to.

 

While this can lead to feeling like everyone is enjoying their lives 24/7 (they’re not), it’s also a great platform for gaining inspiration. Maybe you’ll feel motivated to bake a recipe that you’ve seen on everyone’s Instagram story or perhaps you’ve felt inspired to get creative and start painting. The key is to use these platforms for your benefit, so try to check in with yourself and see if they are having a positive or negative influence on you.

 

Facebook and Twitter are also useful platforms for connecting and sharing information with others.  You can follow people you’re interested in to see what they’re posting, and you can interact with others about specific topics and issues. This is particularly relevant within the context of coronavirus where there is so much information to digest.

 

However, social media can lead to feelings of anxiety, so make sure you’re limiting the time spent looking at these platforms. It’s great to connect with others, but protecting your mental health is vital for staying fit and healthy.

 

Online community forums

At a time when there is often confusing and contradictory information floating about on the internet, online platforms such as Quora provide a unique space for questions and answers. Forums like Quora allow people to connect from all over the world about absolutely anything.

 

The interesting thing about these sites is that they’re also completely user generated. So, it’s all about the community of people who are interacting. You can ask whatever you feel like. For example, what the best places to visit in the world are. Or, what the most amazing photos ever taken are. Take your mind off the current pandemic and start a conversation about something that interests you.

 

Another similar website is Reddit, a social sharing platform where users can post links, pictures and text which others can vote on. As with Quora, you can find a vast array of information on Reddit and different communities of people. So, this can be a great resource for connecting with like-minded people and sharing your own concerns or interests. These community forums are particularly useful at a time when many countries are restricting social contact in person. They provide an outlet for any thoughts and unanswered questions that you might be keeping to yourself. 

 

Why not find out what other international students are concerned about during coronavirus?

 

Online gaming

As with social media and Q&A-style forums, gamers often have their own online communities. You can play games in groups and speak to different people all from the comfort of your own home. While some people might not see gaming as a constructive use of time, there are in fact many positives and skills to be gained. It is argued that online gaming can improve a person’s ability to multi-task, reduces stress and when played in groups, can be a great form of socializing.

Letter writing

While online communication is fast and free, letter writing is still a valuable form of communication. As many of us are spending more time at home, it might be a nice surprise for friends and family to receive something from you in the post. Make someone’s day by showing them that you’ve taken the time to handwrite a letter and send it to them. You might even have the favor returned. Writing by hand is also a stress reliever and can help you to feel calmer, particularly if you’re writing a kind message to someone. Another advantage to letter writing is that you can hold onto it for as long as you like, perhaps as a reminder of this moment in time or your relationship with that person.

 

There is also something rewarding about the length of time between sending a letter and knowing when the person has received it. Unlike our current world of instant communication, letters do not elicit an immediate response and so this teaches us to be patient. It also forces us to slow down and consider what we want to write which can only be of value in our fast-paced lives.

 

Email exchanges

Although a somewhat dated tradition, email chains seem to have resurfaced in response to the coronavirus lockdown. While not a source of joy for some, there have been a few trends which might help you to feel more connected. One popular choice is to send your favourite poem or text to your friends via email in the hope that you will receive theirs in return. This can be a lovely way to connect with others while also reading inspiring and thought-provoking writing. We can all share at least one piece of text that we found moving or interesting, so why not pass it on and brighten someone’s day?

 

Journaling

Writing a diary is not necessarily a way of connecting with others, but as cheesy as it sounds, it is a way of connecting with yourself. Of course, social connection is vital and a great mood booster, but so is understanding your own mind and needs. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or down, journaling is a tried and tested form of emotional release. Just simply putting your thoughts on paper can make you feel less weighed down.

Keeping all of our concerns to ourselves can be damaging for our own wellbeing. One activity you could try is writing down everything that you are grateful for. This is a great technique to feeling more positive and reflective on your own life. Particularly during this worrying time, expressing how you feel and noticing what you have rather than what’s missing can help put things in perspective for you. Even if all you can note is that you have a roof over your head, that’s definitely something to be thankful for.

 

If you’re struggling with the impact of coronavirus, you can get some helpful tips from other international students. If you have any other concerns, check out our article on how to overcome some of the major challenges posed by the outbreak