As an international student, it’s perfectly normal to feel isolated during your time abroad, even without the emotional impact of COVID-19. But, that doesn’t mean you are alone. The global lockdown of 2020 has uncovered many a TikTok trend, saw us experiment with baking, home work-outs and puzzles, and launched many of us into deep, unprecedented feelings of disconnection and isolation.
Here are seven ways to feel connected when you’re experiencing isolation.
Write a letter or send a care package
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with online work, school, TAFE or university classes, as well as social calls conducted exclusively through phones and laptops, you might be experiencing digital fatigue. When our days are spent in conversation with a two-dimensional box, it is difficult to remember the last time we truly connected with other humans. So, put the screens away and go old-school by writing your friends and family letters, or, if you can afford to, sending them a small care package to let them know you’re thinking of them.
While we encourage you to follow your state government’s guidelines, regular walks outside will give you a change of scenery, help stabilise your mood by absorbing vitamin D, and remind you that there are other humans in the world going through exactly the same thing as you. Smile at passers-by and, more importantly, dogs. It is hard to feel alone after giving a puppy a pat!
Keep up with your hobbies
Whatever it is you used to enjoy doing pre-isolation – exercise classes, cooking, painting or life drawing, book clubs, or going to concerts and gigs – has likely become digitised, meaning you can continue to enjoy it from home. Stay connected with hosts via social media to receive updates on when you can book in for a class, as small businesses appreciate all the support they can get right now!
If your favourite past-time is not yet available online, why not invite your friends to join you in setting it up yourself? Here are some ideas to get you started.
Maintain your social calendar
Dinners, drinks, birthday celebrations and games nights don’t need to be rescheduled just because of restrictions. Zoom, Houseparty and Facetime are perfect facilitators for virtual catch-ups with anyone anywhere in the world. Scheduling things to look forward to throughout the week, not just weekends, will ensure you feel fulfilled and connected.
Practise gratitude and presence
The ego and anxiety can only exist in the past or the future, not the present. If you are outside, close your eyes and tune in to what you can hear, feel and smell. This will instantly bring you into your body and provide a feeling of connection to your surroundings.
If you’re inside, take a few moments to look around the room you are in, select three objects to focus on, and tell yourself the story about them. Where are they from, who were you with when you found them, how do they make you feel? You will instantly feel warm and connected to these memories.
Talk to people
Don’t shy away from discussing how you’re feeling about COVID-19 and isolation with your housemates, friends and family, but also make a point to discuss other things to remember there is life outside lockdown. COVID-19 is topical and real, but that doesn’t mean you should not, or can not, enjoy and embrace alternative conversation.
You will feel worlds better by discussing your coursework, the new walking route you discovered (see point two!), what you’re watching or listening to, or the new recipe you are testing out, and giving the “C-word” talk a rest.
Engage in other worlds
When reality feels strange, delve into a different reality! ‘Tis the season to binge-watch TV shows, devour a new book series, or discover a favourite podcast. When you’re physically distanced from friends, family and your favourite barista, it can feel comforting and entertaining to connect with characters and immerse yourself in their narrative for an hour or two. Enjoy the freedom of watching Netflix with no guilt and find pleasure in escaping for just a little while.