Find Your Joy – Or Create It: Connection in the time of COVID
OK, let’s get this out of the way at the start: Nothing good will come from the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a terrible virus that has brought tremendous grief to millions of families, wrecked economies, and caused anxiety and depression across the globe. There’s no “bright side” to the coronavirus.
Still, the human spirit is resilient. People are finding ways to cope with social distancing and massive disruptions to our daily lives. Life is going on, even if it’s not life as we knew it a few months ago.
For the last 10 years or so, I’ve had a YouTube channel devoted to guitar lessons. Since the pandemic took hold around March 2020, the views of my lessons have exploded. The comments I receive throughout the day are revealing:
“I’ve learned so much from these YouTube lessons during the pandemic quarantine. My guitar is keeping me sane.”
“I used to play a little guitar, but since I don’t have much of a social life these days, I’ve picked it back up during the lockdown. Practicing and learning is one bright spot I can count on every day.”
“At this rate, by the time the pandemic is over, I’ll be able to play every song I ever dreamed of learning. I hope I can keep up this commitment after the pandemic ends!”
No, you don’t have to pick up a new instrument to cope with the stress of COVID-19. Just getting through it is more than enough. But it’s a good idea to find ways to bring some light to what might seem like a gloomy situation.
Here’s how some Blue Cross NC employees are finding joy during a time when joy can seem hard to come by.
Virtual book club
“In 2013, our book club started monthly get togethers to discuss our latest read, devour themed snacks and catch up on each other’s’ lives. We met through work and all lived in Raleigh, so these evening hangouts were a time to unwind and connect on a personal level. As the years passed, our members moved, had children, changed jobs, bought homes, and more – but we continued to meet each month to check in and dissect our latest book. Now, we’re based in Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro and Long Island, and our monthly meetups have been virtual for several years.
While the pandemic has changed many things, book club has remained one of my favorite monthly events. We spend more time talking about pets, kids, pop culture and food than we do our books, but this special group of friends has been a comforting presence amid the uncertainty.”
COVID-safe family dinners
“Before the pandemic, my large family of 16 commonly would get together for family dinners. Easter was no exception to our family gatherings. However, this year things were different as we were worried about COVID-19 and how to keep one another safe and follow our states regulations. Having not seen each other for almost a month, my family was missing each other and eager to find a way to connect and celebrate the upcoming holiday.
A text chain from our mom began, ‘I baked vegetables and a honey ham and will cut up portions for everyone at leave it on your porch for lunch tomorrow.’ It quickly spiraled into our own version of a progressive dinner.”
Each of my 3 sisters and myself made a dish for the meal: fresh bread, cookies, fruit salad and baked potatoes. We packaged them up for each individual family and left them on our porch to pick up. When Easter Sunday came, we all had our meal safely at our own homes but were able to still enjoy it together through face time, phone calls and one large group text. It was a fun way to stay connected with each other, keep ourselves busy, and do something for the Easter holiday all while staying safe.”
Virtual game night
“Game Night is a weekend tradition my family and friends have done for many years. It has served as a fun way to connect and laugh through a friendly competition.
With social distancing protocols in place due to COVID-19, we have put a virtual twist on our game night. Using video chat sites like Zoom, my friends and I call in weekly to play each other in our favorite online version of traditional games. The type of games online is a growing space that range from traditional card games to other fun games like Cards Against Humanity, Charades, Among Us, and other games. If you’re looking for a way to find new games or watch popular games being played online, Twitch is a good way to see people playing games and connecting online.”
Social isolation during this pandemic has been tough. If you notice that a loved one seems lonely, here are a few tips on how to start a conversation about mental health. And if you’re planning to spend the December holidays alone, here are some additional tips to take care of your own mental health.
Whatever your strategy, we hope you find connection in this time of social isolation. As they say, we may be apart, but you’re not alone.