Before our worlds were shrunk to the size of our homes, we were often too busy to reply properly to messages instantly. Despite always being contactable, and pretty much always online, we’d still sometimes accidentally go weeks before replying to WhatsApp chats from our nearest and dearest, even with the best intentions.
(By ‘we’, I mean ‘I’ – but I am hoping so many of you will be able to relate.)
Now, since we’re staying safe inside with nowhere to be, and perhaps often very little to actually do, we don’t really have that excuse of busyness for our terrible timing for texting back. We really are always available now; and never has there been a more vital time to stay connected.
Indeed, keeping in touch with friends and family, and checking in with people who might be struggling or lonely, is incredibly important, and incredibly easy. As someone on Twitter (my favourite source) mentioned the other day, there’s no excuse for not replying now; a text takes a few simple seconds, after all.
And I agree wholeheartedly – but it’s also ok to want to disconnect for a moment when the world is now obsessed with keeping in touch.
We are so lucky to be in lockdown at this particular time in history. Thanks to technology, we have so many ways to stay in contact with loved ones, friends and family alike. A week of nothing can be quickly transformed into seven days of digital pub quizzes, on-screen dinner parties, virtual baby showers and coffee catchups. Our online social lives have been pulling out all the stops, and web chats have reached new levels of fun.
Many of us may be alone, but hopefully, the loneliness that may come with Lockdown is being conquered.
We just can’t get enough of it. Demand for video calls has never been so high. Microsoft alone has seen a 1,000% increase in video calls on its platform Teams, and Twitter users are joking that they’d never heard of Zoom before Lockdown was introduced, but now it’s a way of life, and even a verb itself.
But video calling is exhausting. There’s even psychological evidence to explain why you feel so fatigued after a session on Skype (and it’s not because you’re having to explain to your parents how to log on or un-mute their mic). You have more time for social media too, and if you’re anything like me, your scrolling stats were already way too high even before things ground to a halt.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the need to stay in touch with everyone – to check in on friends, to share your week’s anecdotes with your family, to have drinks with the girls every Friday night, or upload to Instagram continually, it’s OK to say no when you need to. It’s ok to take back some time to yourselves, and recuperate ready for your next group chat.
Not only are video calls exhausting, but you’re also working harder on your mental health. Simple things like food shopping are no longer basic tasks that you could do with your eyes shut – not to mention navigating working from home, trying to distract yourself with new hobbies, homeschooling your kids or caring for vulnerable friends, family and neighbours.
I can’t even begin to imagine how tiring things are for you keyworkers out there *claps and whoops in admiration*.
I expected each day to drag during Lockdown, but instead I’m finding the hours fly by as quickly as they would if I had a full day of work, dinner plans, and a theatre review to write in just a few hours. There is still so much going on, regardless of my sickeningly low step count and my empty diary.
I may not be here, there and everywhere physically – but mentally, it’s a very different and exhausting story.
Of course, video calls and constant virtual contact with others is a lifeline for so many of us. Keeping an eye on vulnerable people, helping and supporting others from a distance, conquering loneliness and isolation, educating outside the classroom, and keeping your job just wouldn’t be possible without it.
It’s wonderful; but as with most good stuff, it’s still all about balance. Your need to disconnect and be by yourself is valid.
As much as physical distancing doesn’t mean you have to socially distance, the same rules as usual apply. It’s ok to want some time to yourself when the whole world is telling you that you need to stay in touch with everyone to get through this.
These are strange, turbulent and mentally choppy times; do what you need to do to get by, even if that means socially self-isolating for an evening, so you can stay at your best for your friends and family.
And if you need a bit of help in working out how exactly to express that, or say no to that call you’re dreading tonight, Stylist have already nailed it in this article.
I am so grateful to have so many amazing people to talk to, and to be surrounded, albeit not physically, by friends and family. Our online chats keep me smiling when I miss them so much.
But sometimes I – a self-diagnosed extroverted introvert – just need some time to myself; even if that seems completely illogical at this precise time.