7 Ways to Stay Happy and Connected When You're Stuck at Home
Quarantined, socially distanced, and feeling blue? Here's what to do.
Posted March 17, 2020 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
Normally, we might blast our smartphones and our technology for hurting our well-being. But now that we're all stuck at home, technology is exactly what we need to boost our happiness, well-being, and social connection. So how do we boost our happiness and well-being using just our phones and computers?
Luckily, I spent the last couple of years finding the answer to this question and even published a book on the topic, Outsmart Your Smartphone: Conscious Tech Habits for Finding Happiness, Balance, and Connection.
Here are seven strategies from the book that can help you boost your happiness using technology.
1. Write gratitude messages to friends and family.
When we express gratitude at work, we can more easily gain the respect and camaraderie of those we work with. When we share our gratitude for our partners or friends, they are more generous and kind to us. When we feel grateful for our day-to-day, we find more meaning and satisfaction in life. And gratitude can be shared just as easily online as in real life.
The easiest way to get started with gratitude is by writing short gratitude messages to the people you feel most comfortable with. It could be something they did for you, or it could be something about them.
- Take a moment now to write down the names of three people you feel close to. Next to each name, write down at least one thing about each person that you are thankful for.
- Once you have your list, send these people a message on social media or via text to share your gratitude.
Try to do this at least once per day.
2. Boost your sense of purpose by joining a mission-oriented online group.
When we do things for the greater good, we boost our happiness and wellbeing. And luckily, we can now do this online—for example, by helping a political candidate, addressing an important social problem, or raising money for an important cause. You can even volunteer remotely, for example with organizations like Postcards to Voters. Joining one of these mission-oriented groups can be a great way to get started making a difference, even when you're trapped at home.
3. Savor positive moments on social media.
There are near-infinite positive moments that just pass us by when we're cruising the internet. When we stop for a moment to savor and appreciate these moments, we boost our happy thoughts and can make them last longer. So, as you are surfing the internet, pay attention anytime you experience something positive.
Maybe your friend shares a video that makes you laugh. Or maybe you read an article that teaches you something useful. And if you find that your social media is dominated by negative stuff, take a break and go over to YouTube to savor some cat videos or awe-inducing landscapes.
4. Actively engage with your social media community.
People who use Facebook more actively (e.g., liking, commenting, and posting) tend to have lower levels of depression. People who engage in more passive Facebook use (e.g., scrolling without interacting with others) tend to be more depressed.
This suggests that certain ways of engaging with others online may be good for us, perhaps because they involve social connection rather than social comparison. By reaching out to others, engaging in meaningful social interactions, and strengthening our social bonds, we can likely improve our well-being online.
5. Learn new goals and habits.
Technology has given us access to lots of health and wellness resources, making it easier than ever to build and practice skills like gratitude, mindfulness, and emotion regulation online. You can now use apps to do everything from tracking your mood to practicing therapeutic breathing to building resilience. Here are some of the happiness apps I've talked about in the past.
6. Find health-related information and stories.
Many of us use the internet to learn about health and wellness challenges, read others’ health-related stories, or seek out a wellness practitioner. Research suggests that by doing so, we may be able to feel more confident in our decisions and improve our communication with health providers.
7. Practice kindness.
Instead of just clicking away after enjoying a video, picture, or article online, take a moment to leave a kind note for the person who created it or shared it. Devote a bit more time than it would take to simply click a like button, and instead say something genuine and from your heart. Believe me, the other person will really appreciate it and you'll leave feeling more satisfied than you would have with the like button.
Find these tips and many more in my book, Outsmart Your Smartphone.