So the reality is that we are all going to be navigating a new “normal” for a while.

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the preeminent trauma researchers and scientists in the world, states that one of the ways to lessen the impact of stressful and traumatic events is through connection. As human beings part of what helps us regulate our minds and bodies is to be able to connect safely with others. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is making that really hard for a lot of people.

Zoom happy hours or chats with friends or family help us stay connected, which helps our nervous system regulate. But not everyone has a healthy support network; people that live alone, are in difficult relationships, or are estranged from family can feel particularly isolated right now. Social media can be a bit overwhelming and not always healthy for one’s state of mind so I wanted to share some resources people can explore to find connection and community. As problematic as technology can be, it has also provided so many with a lifeline these days.

Here are some places to explore:

Creative Mornings: This is a global breakfast lecture series with chapters all over the world. They are holding tons of amazing live lectures and “field trips” all over the world. It’s a very inclusive and friendly community where you can be as social or “unsocial” as you want to be. A great place for “out of the box” types and introverts who may have difficulty finding their “people”.

ACES Connection: This is a movement that works to prevent and heal trauma, with a focus on adverse childhood experiences (ACES). The great thing at this site, aside from the wealth of information, is an extensive community. If you register you have access to the calendar and directory of support groups. They also hold webinars about the subjects of trauma and resiliency. Highly recommended for individuals who have survived or are experiencing traumatic situations.

Greater Good Science Center: This is a great website from the University of California, Berkeley where they study the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teach skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society. They have lots of great exercises and practices that one can do to foster a sense of connection, self-compassion, and optimism among lots of other qualities that contribute to a sense of happiness and well-being.

Animal Crossing: This is a video game but that doesn’t mean that it can’t help foster a sense of connection. This game has been hugely popular during the pandemic and even receives recommendations from clinical psychologists. The game developers state that highlighting interconnection is one of the main goals of the game. You can learn more in an article by The Guardian here.

Ben’s Friends: A support group for people in the food & beverage industry that struggle with substance and/or alcohol abuse. This support group has various chapters around the US but they now also have a national online support meeting daily. This can be a great support for people in f&b that have been hit especially hard right now.

Stuck at Home (together) The Unlonely Project: Stuck at Home (Together) provides resources and tools to encourage creative expression and enable social connection during times when isolation is best for our physical safety. They offer lots of interesting things like creativity challenges, story shares, and zoom calls.

This is just a small list of ideas but any of these sites or communities can help increase a sense of connection and well being. Happy exploring!