It started with a vacation group grieving the likely cancellation of our upcoming cruise and grew to be a very important part of my weekly routine during this time of social/physical distancing. I am referring to the video chat Happy Hour. Twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays our group gathers for a couple of hours to hang out with each other through Zoom. A group spread throughout the country joining each for conversation, online games, and support. A group of people who I always knew would be there for me, but now I count on them each and every week.
Social connection and relationships are a huge part of my wellness practice. I prefer group fitness to working out alone, dinner and drinks with friends and family over a solo meal, and travel with others. Human to human connection looks a little bit different right now and while we are using the technology available to figure it out it is important that we maintain and create new connections.
This happy hour connection has become one of my coping rituals during this initial phase of the pandemic. Not only do we see each other live 2-3 times a week, but we connect almost daily through a group chat. This social support group has quickly developed our own norms, inside jokes (enough for a great bingo card), and when we do not connect, I truly miss all of these individuals. I wonder how we will decide to continue this connection when we return to our offices, schools, restaurants, and gyms. For now, I’m enjoying the joy I feel leading up to the login time to see who was able to make the meeting that day.
There are a couple of key reasons that this practice has been so helpful right now. Relationships and Ritual.
Relationships – Building relationships is a product of our human need to find a sense of belonging and acceptance from others. Relationships often equal social connections, but they can also include professional relationships, even if you do not socialize with people from your workspace, your working relationship can still be a benefit (sometimes a detriment) to you. Interacting with people who share similar interests can spark your passion and creativity. I have gained so much by learning more about each of my happy hour friends and I’ve appreciated being able to share my stories too.
Ritual – Having established patterns is an important key to feeling healthy emotionally and mentally. Rituals offer a sense of control. Humans function in patterns, without patterns we feel anxious. During the first few weeks of working from home all of my daily rituals were missing. While I did not recognize it as anxiety at the time, that’s what I was feeling during those first few weeks. I was not sleeping well, I felt unproductive, and very spacey. After a couple of weeks, I was able to establish new rituals and I felt more in a grove. I still miss the ritual of commuting to my campus office but I now feel more in control of my day.
Consider the following questions for some self-reflection.
- How are you connecting with others right now?
- Who have you reached out to that you haven’t spoken to in a while?
- Who is someone who would enjoy hearing from you?
- What new rituals are you creating
Commit to follow-through on these reflections by reaching out to someone you list and continuing/starting new rituals.