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How to maintain connections during times of upheaval
27 May 2020
If you’ve been keeping an eye on uplifting news during the COVID-19 pandemic – and, let’s face it, most of us are living on the internet while we are spending time at home – then you might have seen clips of how communities are coming together in isolation from villages in Italy to New York city via Australian driveways on ANZAC Day.
Research indicates a community of friends and family is a critical part of maintaining good mental health, but during times of upheaval it can be difficult to nurture those connections. Here are some ways to maintain a community spirit despite the current circumstances.
Maintain personal connections
Sometimes, as they say, life gets in the way. Friendships fall by the wayside. We don’t call our loved ones as often as we should. We find ourselves focusing internally and letting the external wither. Research shows that maintaining strong relationships has a direct influence on our health and wellbeing. Losing those connections can negatively affect both mental and physical health.
The coronavirus situation is causing many women in Australia to reflect on what’s most important to them. Having to self-isolate and stay indoors, we remember how essential it is to have solid connections and be part of a local community.
It’s challenging, and isolation contributes to feelings of helplessness and fear. But these are completely natural emotions to experience, which is why the power of social connectedness is so important for counteracting those negative feelings. Lifeline research has shown that during Hong Kong’s 2008 SARS pandemic residents increased their social connectivity (even if they couldn’t be connected in-person), which offset the negative mental health impact of the virus.
How businesses can nurture their own communities
Many business owners across Australia are in one of the toughest periods of their working lives. Some have been forced to close their doors, while others have stood down staff due to cash flow problems. Worried about staff and their finances, owners are experiencing the impact on their overall wellbeing. One way to counteract this is to stay connected to your customer base. Maybe that means conducting business online only or talking to industry bodies and other businesses about what they’re doing to cope. You can also speak with suppliers and see if there are ways to help one another.
The silver lining to the pandemic cloud is that many business owners now have more time on their hands to tackle jobs that have been on the backburner. Is it time to update your website? If so, why not start blogging and sharing those posts with your community? Now may also be the ideal time to publish content more frequently on your social media accounts – and interact with followers.
This is also the ideal opportunity to think about alternative revenue streams. Could you start selling more of your products and services online? Would your customers be interested in purchasing educational video content delivered to them via your website? Or if you’re unable to do your normal business for the foreseeable future, is there any way you could pivot your sales strategy to maintain your customer base while also bringing in some revenue?
Many SMEs around the country are doing just that – local distilleries are using alcohol to create hand sanitisers, and one Sydney-based stage-construction company has turned itself into a furniture e-commerce store to service the incredible surge in people working from home who need home office infrastructure. Take advice from other successful women in business and see what new strategies you can come up with.
Top tips to stay connected during times of upheaval
Isolation is showing itself to be the mother of all creativity. There are so many different ways you can stay connected despite COVID-19. Here are a few suggestions:
- Call or email those you care about – they might be really struggling during this time, and you never know what your reaching out to them could mean.
- Organise weekly video-call (Zoom, GoToMeeting, FaceTime) catch-ups with colleagues in place of Friday drinks.
- Let your neighbours know you’re all in this together by leaving a note of support under their door or in their mailbox.
- Get the family together to create a rainbow path to add sunshine to the lives of people in your community.
- Take up a new online hobby and invite your friends to join you.
- Set daily challenges with a loved one – it could be about exercise, mindfulness, or something creative.
- Organise a group-viewing party where you and your friends watch a TV show or movie at the same time. You can then chat about it in real-time on your favourite messenger app.
- Find out whether your local community has a group on social media (like a dedicated Facebook group) for women in business. Who knows? The current pandemic could be the perfect time to broaden your friend group and take stock with other female business owners.
Stuck inside your home doesn’t mean being isolated from the community. We can keep in touch with family, friends, colleagues and customers – digitally.
You can find more tips on looking after your mental health at home and discover helpful lifestyle insights right here at Ruby Connection.
The information above is general in nature. Always seek professional assistance to ensure that your decisions are appropriate to your personal circumstances and objectives.