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It’s strange to think that just two months ago, we were celebrating Valentine’s Day. Together with my fellow single friends, I made dinner and danced the night away. We could hug each other, wander to the pub, form a tightly knit queue for pizza, slump on the sofa the next day and binge watch Love Is Blind. We never stopped to think just how lucky we were.

They say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. But even now we can still feel connected to each other and to ourselves. I asked Starling staff and customers for their tips on how to feel connected during lockdown. Their recommendations, shared on social media and on Slack, are below.

Staying in touch with friends and family

I have never felt more grateful for technology. Today, we can talk to and see friends and family with the click of a button. There are plenty of platforms out there to use for video calls, many of which have been recommended by Starling customers. Otherwise, stick to good old fashioned phone calls. Just hearing someone else’s voice can make such a difference.

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My friends and I use an app called Zoom. It allows you all to join a big video chat, yesterday we all joined and sang our friend happy birthday; about thirty of us all at once.
Ginny Lea-Minday, Slack

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WhatsApp for family. My work have created a group chat so we can stay connected! Social media has never been more important as it has now to stay in touch! What it was originally intended for.
Bea Jo, Facebook

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Microsoft teams, Facetime and waving to my nan through the window when I deliver things
Mrs Gill 91, Instagram

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@zoom_us @TeoohEvents @SlackHQ and regular-ole’ telephone calls ;)
Steve Wright, Twitter

Trying new things

There have never been more online tools to help you learn something new, many of which are free. Here are some of the things I’m loving from Instagram Live: Monday night conversations with authors Nikita Gill and Nikesh Shukla, poetry tutorials from Rupi Kaur, Reese Witherspoon’s book club, which recently featured the incredible memoir Untamed by Glennon Doyle. These classes can form connections to new communities, as well as helping you to develop new skills.

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Would recommend Babbel if you’re keen to get on the language learning for iso!
Ewan Mood, Slack

Trying something new could also connect you to that forgotten childlike side of yourself - cue fancy dress PE lessons with Joe Wicks. There are also lots of online yoga classes available. If you’ve never tried a downward dog before, now is your chance.

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Exercise is an important aspect for our physical, but also mental health, especially during times of unexpected change. Yoga fits firmly in both spaces! 🧘‍♂️ Being someone who regularly practices yoga, I am a huge advocate of the benefits it brings; helps make you stronger 💪, helps maintain a balanced metabolism 🍉, helps to reduces stress and helps you to sleep better 😴.
Francesca Jones, Slack

Equally, if you don’t want to learn how to make sourdough bread or take an online calligraphy class, that’s also completely fine. Don’t feel guilty if all you’re learning right now is how to adapt to a new normal.

Creating water cooler moments

Many of you will be working from home, full-time for the first time. Even though I chose to work this way as a freelancer, I still miss catching up with colleagues while brewing a cup of tea. It’s important to recreate those moments by calling someone to chat, not about spreadsheets, but about what you had for lunch or box set recommendations.

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Try to arrange some time to have normal chats with my team that aren’t about work - we seem to skip over those conversations on conference calls so it’s all about work now. We had after-work drinks on video last friday and are doing a pub quiz this Friday.
Sarah Ellis, Slack

And when you do have team catch-ups, why not try to jazz them up...

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Doing video meeting activities like a tea party or a quiz. Or wearing a hat to a meeting can make things fun.
Hal MacDermot, Slack

Getting creative

You can also get creative when it comes to catching up with friends at the weekend or date nights.

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Over video, we had a fancy dress party last weekend complete with lobster, Gandalf, astronaut and crocodile. And this weekend we’re having a double date night (I live with my boyfriend and another couple) where we’re going to get dressed up and the boys are going to pick us up from our rooms and take us for a fancy three course candlelit dinner (in the living room).
Sarah Ellis, Slack

Below are some more creative ways to connect with friends and family, or keep others feeling part of the lives of people they can’t visit right now.

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We do a WhatsApp quiz once a week. My elder daughter is also writing a brilliant daily lockdown blog.
Peter Midgley, Twitter

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Using Moonpig to send cards to friends and family who are struggling in isolation. I have a friend with a new baby and she is on lockdown and I could not figure out how to get a card to her without going to the shops. Moonpig helped!
Lucy Smith, Slack

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I work in a Care Home where we have had to stop visitors as a precaution. So I made a video for friends and family to see that their loved ones are doing fine.
Authom8ion, Twitter

My favourite video has to be of the family of six who recorded their version of One Day from the musical Les Mis, complete with quarantine lyrics.

Learning from others and remembering that you’re not alone

Adventurer Ben Fogle recently reminded his followers: "You’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home." Every weekday at 4pm, he shares stories from his many expeditions through Instagram Live. He’s often joined by his daughter Iona and occasionally his labradors Storm and Nero. His insights and conversations are simultaneously uplifting and grounding.

More words of wisdom come from Brené Brown, a researcher on vulnerability and courage who has recently launched a podcast, Unlocking Us. The special podcast episodes of How to Fail with Elizabeth Day featuring philosopher Alain de Botton and author Mo Gawdat are also well worth a listen.

Sometimes, when you’re struggling, picking up the phone to speak to someone you know is even more difficult than sitting in silence. If and when that happens, try listening to a podcast. Or reach out to a helpline such as Shout or Samaritans.

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The Instagram account @dlcanxietysupport is really useful for anyone that may be feeling a bit on edge at the moment
Stephanie Deeble, Slack

It’s normal to feel isolated, distanced and uncertain at this time. All these words are filling the headlines, but they don’t have to fill your head all day, every day. Switch off the news and put on a playlist or an album instead.

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Spotify and other streaming services provide endless choice. Just type ’Relaxation’ in the search box and you can scroll down the list forever, they even have ’Calming Songs for Dogs’. 🐶 My current go to album is ’Serotonin Soundscapes’. It’s in the calming relaxation space, rather than a favourite band, but I do have a few of those as well. Happy listening!
Steve West, Slack

Remember that we’re all living through this strange time together. And that when we gain back some of those normal everyday moments - visits to family, lunches with colleagues, pints with friends - we’ll appreciate them so much more.

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