Back in 1992, Stereo MCs might not have known about coronavirus, but they certainly understood what has been an essential feature of surviving lockdown – the importance of staying connected, to people and to the world. I've been thinking about this since re-connecting with a couple of colleagues from my life before Lucidity, and it struck me that – even for introverts like me – connections are what makes the world go round. So I thought I'd explore a few ways I might become better at getting myself connected.
We all know that humans are social beings, and that loneliness can negatively impact our physical and mental health. So this year has been testing for us all. But it's also led to us being more creative at keeping in touch with others, whether that's waving through neighbour's windows or joining an online quiz. I definitely found myself making more of an effort during lockdown in the spring, but I've not been doing the same of late, even thought it's at least as important as the dark nights set in. So this post is intended to get me back on track. And I'm going to explore three different things:
1: Check in on my network
I've been on LinkedIn for quite a few years now, but I'm often not sure what to do with it. I use FaceBook to keep in touch with personal friends, Instagram for photos (usually of my cat), and Twitter to keep up with what's happening in the world, but I'm never quite clear about how to treat LinkedIn. At least that was until a couple of people used it to get in touch – years after I had met/ worked with them. I have 618 connections on LinkedIn, but I probably only keep up with a handful of those. So, in an effort to get better connected, I'm going to start checking in with people. I have no idea where it will lead, but I'm looking forward to finding out!
2: Step beyond the quiz
I'm a person who loves a good quiz. Only Connect and University Challenge are essential weekly viewing. And I very much enjoyed the weekend Zoom quizzes with my neighbours during lockdown, involving everything from clay to tree ID. But it seems that people are getting a bit of quiz fatigue. So, I've been thinking about other ways to frame an evening's entertainment. A couple of weeks ago, a group of us did a fantastic online escape room. Working together, we had to solve a crime. We loved it! Another friend has suggested a movie club. My partner has even been running his monthly spoon carving club online, mostly for the chat (although some carving does get done). It seems that a lot of hobbies can be shared in different ways, so I'm going to make my best effort to step away from the box sets and join others in creative online pursuits.
3: Get back on the bike
I'm a homebody at heart, so this year hasn't been too hard for me. But I also know that I have a tendency to stay inside more than might be healthy, often finding it tough to get across the threshold. This wasn't a problem during lockdown – the designated hour outside seemed to encourage me to make the most of that time, going for walks and bike rides. Since we've been allowed out as much as we like, I've been doing the opposite. So my last way of getting connected is to remember the world outside my door, and to spend more time in it. That means getting out for more walks, and getting back on my bike.
None of these suggestions is new, and they're definitely not going to change the world. But they might just change my approach to the world this winter.