Staying Connected

VP Societies & Sport Lucy Brown delivers her top tips for staying connected during lockdown, including joining one of our student groups who are still delivering some great virtual content!

Human beings are social creatures, and positive social interactions are hugely beneficial to both our physical and mental health. Whether that’s having a kick about in the park, going out for a meal, or staying in for a movie night, staying connected with people whose company we enjoy helps us deal with stress and can reduce feelings of loneliness.

Unfortunately, staying connected is definitely not an easy thing to do since the pandemic started. But, it is during times like this when we are likely to need the support of friends and family more than ever.

Check out some of my top tips for staying connected during lockdown and give them a try!

It’s the simple things

Phone calls, video calls, texts/direct messages are the most common way to connect with someone. You don’t have to be on the phone for hours, or send a long message describing your whole day. A simple ‘Hey, I’ve got 5 minutes, want to catch up?’ or ‘Hope you had a good day today!’ can make the world of difference. But a long phone call or message is also great too! 

Even just sending someone a link to a new song you found, a picture of what you’re getting up to at home, or a tag on social media of a funny meme/joke/video, can make someone smile and brighten their day.

Snail mail

I, personally, love receiving letters in the post because they are so unexpected. Letter writing is something that rarely happens now but that just makes it all the more special when it does, and all it costs is the price of an envelope and a stamp! 

And it doesn’t have to be a long letter, even a simple postcard can have the same effect. I like to use the Touchnote app to help me send personalised postcards to my friends and family, as it allows you to send it from your phone to anywhere in the world.

Check out this blog post by Astrid Carter, ‘From Lockdown With Love’, explaining why this is the perfect time for us to all start writing letters again!

Join a student group

Clubs, societies and media outlets have been building virtual communities since the pandemic began, adapting to an online environment and providing a community that is always here for you!

These spaces, led by students, are a great place to meet like-minded individuals and foster relationships to help support you, not only now, but throughout your time at university and even beyond. 

Although online, student groups are still here! The increased virtual nature of Term 2 has inspired student groups to continue delivering and improving their online activity so, wherever you are in the world, you can become a student group member and join in!

With many student group memberships now being cheaper, and some even free, there really is no better way to engage with other students and help keep you connected to the world outside your house.

We are all looking forward to the day when we can be back in the same space together to dance, sing, throw, catch, paint, and do whatever other hobbies you may wish, for now our student groups are still virtually here and ready to welcome you. Check out their term two memberships here.

Committee perspective

Kayleigh Fryer is President of Craft Society and SSAGO, and a committee member for Rock & Metal, Left Forum, and Aerospace. She explains a bit about what student groups can do to support you:

Getting involved with student groups is the best way to feel more involved with university life at the moment - be it a sports club, society, or media group, Royal Holloway has an immense number of groups to get involved with. Most groups have weekly socials held virtually that you can drop into where they do something relating to their core purpose as a group, as well as collaborative events to keep engaged and keep up the community atmosphere that we all miss.

Considering the circumstances, most student groups will be more than willing for you to come along for a taste of what they’re like without having to worry about membership costs, and because of being virtual this year, there are a lot of societies that have scrapped their membership costs altogether (still remember to register on the SU site so we know how many members we officially have). 

Socialising with societies and clubs helps to stave off loneliness, learn more about specific interests, and make friends with like-minded people, as well as setting you up with a solid group to meet up with when lockdown restrictions are eased. Having a multi-faceted community and different groups you can dip in and out of helps you not feel as isolated, supports your interests, and definitely helps you feel more included in the community atmosphere.

One of the things that we are all struggling with the most is burnout from everything this year being condensed onto one screen, and maybe for you, the thought of even more virtual content with societies is a bit too much. This is why I use Discord for most of my socials.

With Discord you don’t have to use video (though it does now have a very reliable video chat option), you can use voice channels to speak and/or text channels to message instead. I find that having the option to speak to my friends or societies while reading, crafting, or even carrying on my academic work in the background gives me the satisfaction and happiness of interacting while also reducing my virtual fatigue. The customisable and easy-to-use nature of Discord is what really makes it work for me as a committee member. As a society member, the ability to join a voice channel and have the experience of being part of a social or chatting with my friends, without having to be glued to a screen is brilliant.

Virtual activities

There are loads of activities which you can do online with your friends and family! Things like a virtual dinner party, multiplayer video games, a virtual dance party, or a Netflix watch party. Make sure you check out our virtual events programme and have a look at my previous blog post, 50+ Lockdown Activity Ideas, for some more ideas for virtual activities.

Alternatively, agree on an activity with your friends that you can all try that week and then set up a zoom call at the end of the week to discuss it. For example, you could all:

  • Watch three episodes of a chosen series
  • Read the first few chapters of a book
  • Try a new workout class (have a look at the online class timetable available from Royal Holloway Sport).

This is great because it gives you something shared to talk about, kind of like those experiences you share in person.

If you want time to yourself, that’s fine too!

With everything currently going on, it can feel like there is a higher demand to talk to your friends and family constantly, which can be exhausting. Facing all the challenges we are right now, it can be overwhelming, so take a deep breath and do things on your terms if you need to.

Make sure to communicate in your own time! There is nothing wrong with telling your friends and family you will get back to them, but you may not be as quick as you normally would be.