Author: 
Simone Hockins
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We all need to work together to build positive and sustainable connections, so all Australians feel supported during this pandemic. We all need to make it our responsibility to check in on each other for our mental wellbeing. 

Now more than ever, it is important for us to check on our neighbours and people in our communities, particularly those that are more vulnerable. Your neighbour living alone, elderly friends, people with disability and people with existing medical conditions, someone new to the area or someone from another country is identified as high risk. These people are not only more susceptible to coronavirus, but also at more risk of experiencing loneliness due to isolation. According to an article by Relationships Australia, research shows that loneliness is as bad for us as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. It’s a major risk factor for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. 

Social connections and support in communities are more important than ever. However, like many other areas in our life, we may need to adjust how we socially connect with others to ensure we are still practicing precautionary measures to flatten the curve. There are a number of ways you can socially connect with those in your community during social distancing. 

Phone calls 

Phone calls are a lovely way to provide a comfort and intimacy that text-based communication can lack. 

Video calls 

With a vast number of video calling platforms out there (FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc), it has never been easier to facilitate video calls. Just ensure the person you are calling has the knowledge on how to use your chosen platform and has the program downloaded. 

Check in with a text 

Texting is one of the most convenient ways to keep in touch. Whether you are sending a funny meme or having a lengthy conversation, texting is quick, easy and is a simple reminder to your loved ones that you are thinking of them. 

Group chats 

There are many messaging apps available that enable you to create group conversations (Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts etc.) Again, just ensure the everyone in the group has the knowledge on how to use your chosen platform and has the program downloaded. 

Join online groups 

As more Australians self-isolate, the number of online communities for Australians sharing their experiences in online forums is increases. Beyond Blue has a dedicated forum to help people cope with the pandemic. It provides a safe space for people to share their concerns and stay connected. 

Write a letter  

There’s nothing that makes you feel more loved than receiving a handwritten letter. Get sentimental and grab yourself a pen and paper and get writing. 

Send a postcard 

You may not be able to be there in person, but you can let your loved ones know you are thinking about them with a postcard. There are many personalised postcard apps out (MyPostcard, Touchnote, even Australia Post) that enable you to create postcards complete with your own pictures and messages!  

Leave a note 

Perform a small act of kindness by leaving a connection card with a kind message and your phone number for those who are isolated, so they can call you for a chat. 

Compete from afar with apps 

Get competitive with your friends and neighbours during isolation by playing free games with your friends. There are many free apps out there (Words With Friends, QuizUp, Draw Something) that challenge your friends and your brain.

If you’re more of a board game fan, there are many free online board games you can play with your friends (Monopoly, Scrabble, Risk, Trivial Pursuit).  

For more ideas, check out Neighbour Day’s list of #CreativeConnection Tips here.

Let’s all be more neighbourly! 

No matter which way you choose to connect with those in your community, we all need to work together to build positive and sustainable connections. 

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