Tips & Tricks- Social relationships and family

What is the Dutch population doing to keep a cool head? By means of these blogs, the Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization aims to give people in the Netherlands a fresh dose of inspiration. We do this by summarizing the tips & tricks and highlighting a number of quotes from the COVID-19 study. In the spotlight this week: social relationships and family.

Our social life has changed tremendously since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Events, birthdays, weddings and dinners have been canceled, offices, schools and institutions have been closed, and we are instructed to stay at home as much as possible. For many, this means that staying in touch with friends, family or colleagues becomes a lot more challenging. Fortunately, there are many ways to stay connected, as shown by the tips & tricks from the Dutch population below.

Stay connected (digitally)

We know from research that social relationships with others is one of the most fundamental psychological needs. Therefore, it’s important to keep in touch! For example, call someone you love or haven't spoken to for a long time. If you also want to see each other, you can use FaceTime, Zoom, Jitsi or Skype to talk or dine together. Really take the time and attention for your family and loved ones. For example, play games at home or digitally, or start a good conversation.

“Find the connection virtually, for example with an online pub quiz (I now do it twice a week), or a virtual dinner using zoom (food is delivered and you join friends via video calling). And share more personal experiences with colleagues - we love it! ” (Woman, aged 36-45)

 "Every day at 5 o'clock I sit down in the sun with a glass of wine and cheese together with my partner. We enjoy it. My husband works from home and ensures that our teen is working for school. And I work part-time and am at home at 2 pm. Many games, walking with the dog and good cooking. Lots of laughs. No TV on. Reading. Occasionally watching series. We both have a lot of social contacts at work. So time for each other is a gift. " (Woman, aged 46-55)

“To find out who I have not had contact with for a long time (years) for any reason and to write them a letter (a real one, not an email or app or something like that) to share stories together and maybe build a future with them again.” (Man, aged 65 or older)

Exercise together 

We know that during this period both exercise and social contact are very important for our happiness, so why not exercise together? Exercising together is (usually) more fun than alone! Take an online sports class with the family or roommates once a week, or go for a walk (or run) with your partner or close friend. Always adhere to the guidelines of the RIVM (1.5 meters of distance and with no more than three people).

 “Create new rituals within your family. Rituals provide guidance and a safe feeling. We exercise together every Sunday morning. Feels good. ” (Woman, 36-45 years old)

“Walk together, even if it is a short distance, each on one side of the street. It is still together and safe. ” (Woman, 36-45 years old)

Do something good for one another

Not everyone has an easy time these days. Send a postcard to those that are at risk for isolation, make phone calls regularly, do something fun to surprise someone else, or get groceries for older neighbors. Doing something good for others doesn't just make the other person happier; research shows that prosocial behavior is also good for your own well-being and happiness!

 “Smile when you see someone and greet each other. Call or text family, friends and acquaintances. For some, it may be the only time in a day or maybe a week that they can express their feelings. ” (Woman, age 65 or older)

 "Keep in touch with people. Just asking how someone is doing or surprising someone with a small gesture will bring joy and satisfaction to both the recipient and you." (Woman, aged 46-55)

 “Try to do help someone every day. It makes the world a better place. (I don't do this alone during this period ...) ”. (Woman, aged 46-55)

Take time for yourself as well

Do you have a tough or vital job? Do you work or sit at home all day with children or roommates around you? Research shows that negative feelings can arise not only when people are often alone, but also when people are too rarely alone. Make sure to take a moment for yourself every now and then to recharge again. Think of where you get energy from and give yourself that rest. For example, find a quiet place outside, read a book, pick up an old hobby or teach yourself something new.

 “Ask yourself: what am I getting energy from right now / today? Then make time for that. No matter how short. ” (Woman, 36-45 years old)

 “Keep calm, use this time to do things you never got around to. When everything is over, you are happy that there is enough time to revisit your social contacts and you will enjoy outings even more. ” (Woman, aged 56-64)

 “Pick up something creative! Tinkering, drawing, an old hobby that you haven’t done for a long time, try something new or paint a cupboard in the house, for example! ” (Woman, aged 25-35)

Don't forget to enjoy!

Many people indicate that they use this time to reflect on themselves, on which things and people are really important in life and on the things and relationships they do have. Accept the situation we are all in now, enjoy the peace and your loved ones, use the opportunities it brings, stay positive and think in opportunities.

 “Take this moment to look at yourself. Accept the situation, you cannot change it. Look at the options you have and use them. Learn from others. Always keep hope and trust. ” (Woman, aged 56-64)

 “Find the bright spots, pay more attention to each other, enjoy what you do have. This will pass again. Appreciate the small things: your family, food, living, health; appreciate life, we only have one. Don't ruin your day with longing that isn't now. It will be alright again. ” (Woman, aged 56-64)

 “Use this time to reflect on your life and whether you are still doing the things you enjoy doing. Also consider what has real value in life. Walk through nature and see the beauty. Be grateful. Use your creativity to meet your needs. See this crisis as an enormous opportunity for a development towards a sustainable society with an appreciation for nature, for warm contacts, for a slower pace. In times of crisis there is always a seed for a new, more beautiful society. You can create it yourself. ” (Woman, aged 46-55)


Download all tips & tricks regarding social relationships and family here

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