Today’s Solutions: May 22, 2024

With so much time spent at a distance from others, it goes without saying, our social muscles have atrophied during the pandemic. Now, as the end of isolation seems to be slowly coming into view, many of us may still feel apprehensive about social contact, despite longing for more of it since the start of the pandemic. With that said, there are a few exercises that we can practice to relearn being together.

Curated by Bonnie Tsui from The New York Times and recommended by Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, below you can find eight science-based exercises that can help you dust off your social skills and retrain yourself to comfortably be among others:

8 Ways to Improve Your Social Skills After Isolation
Share food with someone.  
Eating a meal with someone else is a real mood booster and a great way to stave off loneliness. Even if you don’t do it every day, an outdoor picnic or a distanced backyard happy hour from time to time is a great and safe option for reconnecting with loved ones.
Tell someone a joke in person.  
You may be out of practice and have to work on your timing, but making eye contact and laughing together is key to creating stronger connections with others. Don’t mind if the joke falls flat — being silly together will feel really good.
Ask someone what they’re listening to or reading right now.  
Music and literature are great for building a sense of community. Listen to music together or exchange books and have an in-person discussion afterward.
Reach out to someone you’ve lost touch with.  
Rebuild your larger social infrastructure outside your immediate circle by trying to reconnect with people you haven’t been in touch with for a long time. Call them or write them an email or text to check-in.
Strike up a conversation with a stranger.  
Be it a fellow dog-walker, the cashier at a grocery store, or a delivery person on your doorstep, interact with someone with whom you have passing contact. Make eye contact and talk to them as a person rather than as a function. Ask something outside the normal transaction, like what’s changed since the last time you saw each other, what are they looking forward to.
Move with someone.  
Dance, walk, exercise — or even do the dishes and fold the laundry with someone else. Physical synchronicity is incredible, yet a simple, way to connect with someone else.
Sit quietly with someone.  
Practice comfortably being in companionable silence with someone else. Let the other person know it’s OK to not always fill the air. The power of silence can deepen your relationships.
Make a date for the future.  
Be it a summer beach weekend or a long hike, pick something fun to do with someone you love. It could also be a ski trip next winter — having something to look forward to is essential for well-being. Practice optimism, in anticipation of normalcy. Plan with hope.
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