Online quizzes and shared experiences
We might be able to enjoy some activities face-to-face, but less frequent meet-ups, only being in small groups, and limited physical contact like hugging can make it really hard to feel as connected as usual.
Research shows us that meaningful social interaction is essential for wellbeing. We need lasting, positive, emotional connections to others, and that requires more than just ‘liking’ social media posts or small talk via text. We’re much more likely to feel connected when we actively engage in activities and share emotional experiences with others.
That’s where activities like online quizzes come in – they’re a shared experience. You’re all enjoying the same questions and fun rounds at exactly the same time, and have something to each relate to and talk about. Consider a simultaneous video call – the experience will be all the more satisfying if you can see the look on your friend’s face when their speciality round comes up!
Without shared experiences, we risk losing our sense of belonging. Loneliness and social isolation are associated with a whole host of negative physical and mental health outcomes.
Studies show that having experiences with friends and family can be more enjoyable than solo experiences because the presence of others increases activation of our neural reward circuits. Essentially, sharing an experience amplifies our emotions, making positive experiences feel even more positive.
And, if quizzes aren’t your cup of tea, you can do it with other activities such as enjoying a walk at the same time (if you’re not self-isolating) or even watching a film. You don’t have to be physically together – thanks to technology, you can share the views you’re experiencing with your friends and family.
Whether you’re physically isolating through choice or necessity, it doesn’t mean you have to be socially isolated. Staying connected is vital for our mental health.
Check in on other people – you don’t have to be an expert
It’s more important than ever to look out for others where we can. Even asking ‘How are you getting on?’ to a friend or neighbour can really help – but if in response you get the standard ‘I’m fine’, don’t be afraid to ask again, ‘How are you really doing?’ or ‘How have you been feeling lately?’. Something as simple as this can boost your own mood as well as theirs. It renews your social connection to one another and gives you both the opportunity to share problems and feelings. Helping others makes us feel good, it releases so-called ‘happy hormones’ in our brains known as the ‘helper’s high’.
Our physical shared experiences might have been minimal but living through a pandemic is something we all have in common, so talking about it and looking after each other is vital.
Take the time to reflect
It’s easy to forget that we should be asking ourselves the same questions: how am I doing? How am I really doing? How have I been feeling lately? We’ve faced some form of social restriction for the past seven months, and it looks as though this will continue for the winter ahead. There’s the ever present mantra of ‘Keep calm and carry on’ and, while some will carry on as best they can, for others the anxiety and uncertainty present extra challenges. It’s important to remember to take time for yourself and ‘check in’ on how you’re feeling – regardless of your day-to-day routine. Everyone’s ‘normal’ is likely to have changed, and it’s ok to have mixed feelings about that – there’s no right or wrong way to feel. Reflecting on what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been feeling can help you to take stock, to stop negative feelings from niggling away at you under the surface, and to recognise when you need help so that you can ask for it.