The pandemic may have limited our physical social outings, however with online choirs to YouTube exercise groups or CPD forums, there is a plethora of opportunities for everyone to find companionship and connection.
Research has found that online groups can provide an avenue for friendship, that can alleviate the loneliness caused by COVID-19 which has increased amongst older adults (van Tilburg et al, 2020) and younger people alike (Mental Health Foundation, 2020).
Gathering with others online may never equal the physical connection you form from face-to-face encounters; however, online groups can be a great way to put a smile on your face, learn a new skill or challenge yourself.
We have collated a few ideas for joining an online group:
Join a virtual book club
As COVID-19 confines us to our homes, it may be the perfect chance to catch up on some reading or tackle that novel you’ve always wanted to read. Being mostly a solitary and at-home activity, reading is one of the few pursuits which have remain unchanged in COVID, whilst affording us access to others. With every digital device a potential aveue for anxiety, it may never have felt so necessary to escape into another world. Book clubs offer an opportunity to reflect on what we have read, learnt or discovered. Furthermore, with the seasons changing, cosying up with a book has never sounded so tempting. Quarantine book club can be a good place to start if this is the type of online group for you.
Online exercise group
At the start of the pandemic, with gyms and organised exercise closed, the popularity of outdoor walking (Times Colonist, 2020) and running increased dramatically (CNN Health, 2020). However, although great for our health, these are both solo activities and can leave little room for connection, yet with a range of online exercise classes such as dance and yoga available at our fingertips, now has never been a better opportunity to learn something new whilst also making friends. Check out this article from Good Housekeeping with the lowdown on the best dance classes or why not try live streamed yoga?
Continuing Professional Development
If you are a professional, the pandemic has lots of opportunities for online learning. Some of our favourites include Sensory Integration which offer a range of online events and workshops for therapists, or Eventbrite also list live online courses.
Make new mates
There is a range of online communities simply with the aim of making new friends including Together Friends a UK-based company which connects women based on their location, age and interests. It is a safe space for women to chat together, have calls over morning coffee and meet up for social distancing walks, too. Meet up also offer a range of social gatherings online. 7 cups of tea offer peer support over messenger if you need some support.
We want to know what your favourite online group is, message us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment below!
Author: Esther Dark
CNN Health (2020) Running is enjoying a boom because of the coronavirus pandemic, Available from: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/25/health/running-coronavirus-wellness-trnd/index.html [Accessed on 22/09/2020]
Mental Health Foundation (2020) Loneliness during coronavirus. Available from: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/loneliness-during-coronavirus [Accessed on 22/09/2020]
Theo G van Tilburg, G, T., Steinmetz, S., Stolte, E., van der Roest, H., de Vries, D, H., Loneliness and Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Study Among Dutch Older Adults, The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, , gbaa111, https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbaa111
Times Colonist (2020) Pandemic propels rise in walking’s popularity among B.C residents. Available from: https://www.timescolonist.com/pandemic-propels-rise-in-walking-s-popularity-among-b-c-residents-1.24201410[Accessed on 22/09/2020]