Alanna Julian – Staying connected during COVID-19
We’d like you to meet Alanna Julian. Alanna works as an Inclusion Project Officer and is passionate about advocating for the inclusion of people with a disability. She lives on the Central Coast with her three dogs and two cats. Alanna shares with us some of her simple ideas for staying connected during COVID-19.
During this time of social isolation, people in the community, including people with disabilities, are looking to other ways to connect and stay motivated. Many are using technology and social media more than ever before. People with disabilities who were already experiencing social isolation prior to the pandemic, can experience it even more so during this time.
Socializing online can have its advantages but it can also present many challenges. For people with social anxiety, connecting online can feel more safe and comfortable than in person, but for others who aren’t familiar with technology or may not have a computer, they can feel left out and isolated.
So here are some of my top tips to keep you motivated and feeling connected both with and without technology.
Connect with friends on social media whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter or Snap Chat. Maybe you haven’t heard from a friend in a while. Just send them a message asking how they are and see what comes of that.
If you enjoy taking photos and using Instagram, maybe you could take photos and share tips on how you are keeping busy. Even just going for a walk and snapping some interesting photos of nature, birds or wildlife that you saw along the way.
Focus on other ways to keep doing the things you enjoy
Another friend of mine who has autism and had challenges getting to the shops started growing her own fruits and veggies and gardening which helped out with her physical and mental health.
Before lock down I was attending a performing arts theatre program for people with disabilities a couple of times a week and it had to temporarily close. The director didn’t see this as a challenge and along with his staff managed to do online dancing, acting and singing classes. They also started an online group chat.
If you have an interest in craft, you could sign up to an online social media site called Pinterest and search for craft ideas. There are also many free and fun workout sessions on YouTube for people interested in keeping fit as well as guided yoga and meditation. A simple google search will leave you with endless options!
A friend of mine who has cerebral palsy and whose gym and sport activities were closed, signed up for a charity walk to raise money for children living in poverty, they did 10,000 steps a day. This motivated him to walk around his local area and also engage in online workouts.
Stay connected with your friends and family
What has kept me most motivated during lock down is spending more quality time with the people I live with including my family and my pets and talking to friends I can’t meet up with in person on the phone or on video call.
Look out for your mental health
It also important to make sure we look out for our mental health during this time. We are being bombarded with news of COVID-19 and the effect it is having all over the world. This can make us feel anxious and overwhelmed so it may be worth limiting time spent watching or reading the news and trying to stick to key information and updates. There are many great sources of factual and easy to read information about coronavirus and staying safe and well during lockdown. Why not check out the easy read information that the Council for Intellectual Disability have developed.
As life slowly returns to normal and restrictions start to ease, we can all start to look forward to enjoying the things we have not been able to do. But if you did find new activities that you enjoyed during lockdown there is nothing stopping you from keeping them up.
I’m looking forward to the things I love like going to the movies, concerts and eating out. But most of all, continuing to spend time with family and friends (and hopefully giving them a big hug in person!).
Guest Blogger and Inclusion Advocate