The COVID-19 pandemic compelled many countries worldwide to implement strict measures to contain the virus’ spread. Social distancing and quarantine are some of the initial protocols governments put in place to counter the pandemic.
Despite the governments’ and health authorities’ best efforts, the pandemic claimed many lives. To lessen the risk of contracting COVID-19, some individuals sought to undergo various operations, such as weight-loss surgeries.
Furthermore, authorities had to work with IT security and digital marketing experts to help prevent or mitigate misinformation from spreading, especially on social media.
However, one of the most severe impacts of the global pandemic is the social isolation brought by quarantine and social distancing measures.
People are required to remain in their homes and minimize physical contact with each other. In turn, these policies caused many individuals to feel lonely and depressed.
Despite these challenges, there are ways for you to maintain your social connections and continue being productive. This article discusses these ways and the benefits of working remotely as a way to improve your productivity.
The Current State of Social Isolation
In the United States, the global outbreak of COVID-19 appeared to have substantially increased the levels of loneliness among the country’s citizens.
A 2020 report suggested that about 36% of Americans feel “serious loneliness.” This statistic included 51% of mothers with young children and 61% of young adults.
Young adults are frequently classified as people aged 18 to 24 years.
Most of the young adults during the pandemic outbreak in early 2020 are considered part of the Millennials (born during 1981 to 1996) and Generation Z (born in the mid-1990s to the early 2010s).
The study explored the causes and costs of loneliness, including early mortality and physical and emotional problems.
In the same study, 43% of young adults reported experiencing increased levels of loneliness since the pandemic began. Among the different age groups, young adults suffered higher rates of anxiety and depression due to loneliness.
A 2020 CDC survey showed that about 63% of young adults had anxiety or depressive disorders.
Among this age group, 24.7% started or increased substance use to cope with pandemic-related stress. In comparison, 25.5% have contemplated suicide within the past month.
At this critical time when people are seeking ways to cope with loneliness, providing them information and strategies is essential to address social isolation.
Some suggestions include public education campaigns and strategies to help manage self-defeating thoughts and behaviors that influence loneliness.
One potential strategy is to look for ways to maintain connections with people despite the distance and isolation.
How to Stay Connected
Despite the constraints on social interaction brought by the pandemic, you may still find ways to overcome these challenges. Some of the ways to address social isolation by staying connected include the following:
If you are currently an employee, a manager, or a business owner, checking in on your coworkers and subordinates is essential in maintaining social interactions.
These check-ins may take the form of scheduled weekly meetings, performance reviews, or even short coffee breaks.
By checking in on coworkers, you can get updated on what they are doing or how well they are coping with work.
In addition to interacting with coworkers, regular check-ins allow employees to unwind and take a break from the stresses of work and isolation.
Social Media Utilization
One of the primary uses of social media is to connect with friends and family. Additionally, you may also use social media as a method to maintain connections with coworkers.
For example, you may create a Facebook group for your coworkers and use it to share motivational posts.
Some companies are more open-minded and allow employees to use social media for non-work-related activities.
For example, group members may share cooking recipes, pictures of their pets, or posts that encourage discussion, such as how you can help the community during the pandemic.
Sometimes, when you are socially isolated, someone may offer to listen and talk to you. This simple gesture may help lighten your emotional and psychological load.
In this case, you may share your experiences and seek advice from your social media group.
There are times when some aspects of your work become repetitive or mundane that you may need to step back and consider learning something new.
For example, learning a new skill or engaging in a new hobby may help you become more motivated at work.
You may consider investing a little time each week to learn new and simple tasks like cooking easy-to-prepare meals. You may also take a day or two off to pursue new interests, such as baking, playing a new instrument, or woodcarving.
You can even invite family, friends, or coworkers to these activities so that you can learn together. This way, you develop a new skill while also interacting with others.
The bottom line is, there is always something new to learn, and these new things may help motivate you at work.
Acts of Kindness
The pandemic has adversely affected many people’s personal, social, and work lives worldwide. That said, being a little kinder may bring more positivity at home and in the workplace.
If you have a chat group with friends or coworkers, you may share various media that encourage kindness and positivity.
For example, you may send inspiring quotes or videos of people doing acts of kindness.
This activity may not seem like a big deal to some people. However, you never know who your post will reach and positively influence.
For instance, one of your coworkers may be having a difficult time amidst the pandemic. Even a simple, inspiring message can help motivate them, which can mean a lot to them.
Music can be a way to inspire people and motivate them, especially during trying times such as a pandemic.
Some songs may help improve your mood to become more productive, making those songs suitable for listening to while working.
Other songs work well for relaxation, and playing them may help with stress relief.
Ask your friends or coworkers for suggestions if you are unsure of what songs to listen to or have not yet created your playlist.
Remote Work Advantages
The pandemic has changed how many businesses operate. These changes include the shift from an on-premise to a remote work setup.
While this sudden but necessary change was challenging for many companies, they needed to implement this new work setup to survive.
In addition, some employees, managers, and business owners are now experiencing some benefits associated with remote working.
As mentioned in the State of Remote Work Report 2020, the most significant benefit of a remote work setup includes having a flexible work schedule.
Many online jobs have flexible hours, meaning they do not have to be limited to a fixed work schedule. With many jobs globalized and outsourced, the difference in time zones is one factor why workers need to pick their own time.
As stated in the report, other advantages of remote work include the flexibility to work anywhere. With commute no longer necessary, the working class can enjoy more family time and the ability to work from home.
Many young adults have been adversely affected by the global COVID-19 outbreak, especially in terms of loneliness and depression brought by social isolation.
However, there are ways for people to stay connected and continue to be productive even during the new normal state brought about by the pandemic.
If you are employed or working remotely, talk to your human resources manager about addressing social isolation and improving the employees’ well-being.
Additionally, seek professional help if you feel that the pandemic is adversely affecting your mental health.
- Loneliness in America: How the Pandemic Has Deepened an Epidemic of Loneliness and What We Can Do About It. https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/reports/loneliness-in-america
- Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm?s_cid=mm6932a1_w
- The 2020 State of Remote Work. https://lp.buffer.com/state-of-remote-work-2020