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4 Ways You Can Feel Connected (Without Using Video) During Self-Isolation

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With forced isolation well and truly upon us, and with no clear end in sight, it can feel impossible to create any sort of attachment to others or to yourself. Like many, I find myself wondering how I can lift myself from the sense of isolation while remaining physically distant from loved ones. Feelings of anxiety are heightened dramatically, and not just for those with preexisting mental health issues.

I know there are many ways teletherapy can have profound impacts on struggling individuals in isolation. It’s relatively easy to use, and it’s the most accessible form of mental health support we have right now. Plus, the healthcare industry’s adoption of Application-to-Person messaging (A2P) and email to SMS platforms has seen great results in the delivery of important updates and crucial appointment reminders.

It seems like everyone is dealing with their emotions in inventive ways: regular video calls with therapists, family dinners held via Zoom and don’t forget Friday night drinks with the girls over Facetime. But sometimes — most of the time really — all I need to feel better is to text someone and have them text me back.

Replacing in-person therapy with teletherapy sessions has become a popular choice for many seeking support. However, for people with anxiety, the pressure of looking into someone’s eyes (albeit through a screen) can be too much, even when they desperately want to feel connected.

With that in mind, here are four ways technology can keep you feeling grounded and in touch with the outside world:

1. Messaging support.

Whether you want to chat with your friend, mother, psychologist or even general practitioner (GP), you can do so through the humble magic of SMS. Messaging services can allow people to construct their thoughts and feelings more eloquently when that is not possible with live, direct speech.

As mentioned previously, sending and receiving text messages is enough for me to know I have been heard and I am supported. A study conducted by the University of California revealed there are some mental health benefits of SMS. The research found people receiving or sending texts from loved ones experienced an “uplift in their mood.” But if you’re after help and support of a more professional sort, you can still talk to someone without communicating over a video or phone call. These are some fantastic online mental health services, ready to message and talk it out, whenever you need. The following (aside from Talkspace) are based in my home country of Australia:

2. Online journaling.

Journaling your thoughts and feelings is certainly not a new concept, but remains helpful nonetheless. And even more so when we collectively feel uneasy and down. With so much time spent cooped inside, it’s easy to turn inward and focus on the thoughts circling your mind. While putting pen to paper is the traditional method, online journaling apps offer secure, multimedia options to express yourself.

Apps like The Five Minute Journal are really helpful to get started in your journaling journey, providing prompts to respond to. Every morning and night, the app asks you six questions, such as what you are grateful for, and how you can make the next day better. The app is great for those who find themselves constantly reflecting on each day, but have nowhere to place their thoughts.

Writing a journal entry in Penzu feels like you’re writing a blog post, except no one will ever see it (entries can be set to be 100% private). It gives you the freedom of a blank page while keeping your private thoughts chronologically together in one app — under strict password protection and encryption.

3. Share your thoughts with an online community.

If you’re craving a sense of community and togetherness right now, you’re not alone. Yes, you can easily talk to a trusted friend or therapist via the internet. But there’s a certain freedom in expressing your thoughts to a bunch of strangers who could be feeling the same way.

Online forums are often sought after by others who wish to feel connected, but believe those within their families or community don’t understand or might hold prejudices. For many of us, it’s often easier to discuss struggles and achievements with those outside our circle who can reply with their neutral and impartial thoughts.

The Mighty’s dedicated “thought” space is a great place to start because you know it is a supportive and like-minded environment. Forum communities on The Mighty and online mental health providers like SANE or BeyondBlue are moderated, providing you with peace of mind, trusting your thoughts will be heard, not attacked.

4. Multi-user streaming services.

Staying connected in isolation is not only about in-depth discussions and sharing your latest piece of iso-artwork, although that is still very important. Sometimes, all you need to get through the moment, or the day, is to feel like you’re in the company of someone familiar. And luckily, streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube and even gaming apps like Parsec have created tools that let you watch, play and chat with anyone, anywhere. It’ll almost feel like your regular movie or game night with friends.

Whether you or someone you know is struggling to feel connected, it’s essential to understand what communication approaches work best for each individual. Yes, we need to be able to communicate and express how we are mentally and physically coping. However, maintaining our mental health and treading above the proverbial water of isolation can look different for everyone. For some, it does mean serious chats, telehealth appointments and sharing your experiences with a friendly face. But perhaps not for those less comfortable with more intimate forms of communication. Sometimes simply writing down your thoughts, or knowing someone else is there on the other end of a text, is more than enough.

Struggling with your mental health due to COVID-19? You’re not alone. Check out the following articles from our community:

Getty image by Lightcome

Originally published: May 5, 2020
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