Quarantine lockdown here in the Philippines has been a uniquely challenging experience for everyone, and everyone has had their own unique response to suddenly being confined to their own house and immediate surroundings. Even if you did start off fairly strong, after two months of isolation many of us are starting to struggle: family tensions are high, moods are low, and productivity is slipping.

This is why it’s so important to reach out to your coworkers – to offer and receive support from people close to you. Have you maintained contact, or reached out to your network yet? If not, read on and give it a go – it might just save your sanity!

Why we feel weird about reaching out

The first step to offering or asking for help is to understand why you might initially be resistant. Asking for help is not easy to do in a society that celebrates independence and self-reliance. Asking for help can make us feel vulnerable and uncomfortable – which is why it’s so important to offer support even if you haven’t yet been asked!

Another reason it can feel weird to reach out right now is that a lot of the medical advice we see on the news is to maintain social distance – avoid other people, they might be sick! However, “social” in this case may be a misnomer, as the real cause of concern in physical distance.

Doctors are recommending that we practice physical distancing, not social distancing in a way to reframe the mind set for best handling the pandemic, reminding us that it’s now more important than ever to stay socially connected.

How to make asking for help easier

Now that we know that our friends, family and coworkers may need us more than ever, it’s time to take that first step and actually reach out. Here are some great tips to help you over that hump.

  • Know you are not alone

Reaching out to ask or offer help is a mutual exercise, where both parties connect and benefit from the interaction. People are very likely to offer support when asked directly, and are more likely to cooperate and engage when working with other people.

  • Be specific in your requests

Another good idea is to be specific when reaching out: don’t hide behind euphemisms or wait for the other person to guess your intentions. Instead of asking for generic “support”, ask for the person to make time to call, or if they can pick up some groceries while they are out at the store. Similarly, if you are offering support, rather than asking “can I do anything for you” try offering a specific item like “do you need shampoo or soap?”

  • Keep the door open

You can’t build a community from one interaction – to truly get the benefits you need to make reaching out a habit. By reaching out regularly, both to offer and receive support, you can build and develop the social ties between your network and grow closer to the people in your life. Having a more connected network means feeling safer, saner, and happier and being able to weather these challenging times with ease.

  • After Work Drinks

Regular social interactions can be a great way to stay connected and provide a space for people in your network to reach out. Even if you have to hold them via virtual conference, after work drinks keep your coworkers together as a social group that every member can rely on for help when they need it.