How To Support Friends Going Through Quarantine

How To Support Friends Going Through Quarantine

friend stuck in quarantine isolation Hong Kong

As Hong Kong continues to struggle through its fifth and most virulent wave yet, it seems we all know someone who is stuck in isolation, whether they are in hospital, hotel or home. The Banyan team has had first-hand experience of extensive quarantine and the physical, mental and emotional impact that it brings, so we’ve put together some suggestions of ways that you can support your friends during this challenging time.


Check In Regularly

It is a strange quirk of human nature that when we are feeling cut off from friends and family, we sometimes retreat further into our shells instead of reaching out. Pick up the phone regularly and unprompted, helping your friend stay connected to the outside world and hear a human voice. Allow them to vent their frustrations by listening with sympathy and compassion, making sure they feel heard. Often people are afraid to initiate contact for fear of coming across like a Moaning Myrtle, so reassure them that their feelings are valid and normal.


Share Your Ideas

It’s easy to fall into a rut when each day is the same as the next. Setting a regular routine that incorporates exercise, eating, work, fun and self-care isn’t just healthier, it also helps to structure the days and makes time pass more quickly. Send them some recommendations to help pass their time, such as films or books you’ve enjoyed, online classes, useful apps, interesting websites, or interactive games you can play together. If you want some ideas, have a look here for some inspiration


Send A Care Package

There is something about receiving an unexpected delivery while in quarantine that warms your heart. Just knowing that there are people out there who are thinking about you makes you feel you can cope with this short-term incarceration.

There are many lovely ideas for care packages out there, including our own Banyan Care Pack, full of delicious local and ethically-produced treats and (of course) sustainably packaged to offer some relief to the endless single-use plastic PPE.


Get Specific

“Let me know if I can do anything to help!” said every person who knew I was isolating, and yet I always felt awkward messaging them with requests. As well-intentioned as they were, it just wasn’t a specific enough phrase to overcome the feeling that I was being a nuisance. So ask your friends in quarantine outright if there is anything specific that they are missing that you can pick up for them. Let them know when you are on your way to the supermarket, or when you happen to be in their area, so they are more confident to let you know what they would really like.


Google-Meet For Dinner

So what if the restaurants are closed? You can still plan to catch up over dinner and have a little fun thanks to the wonders of modern technology! Decide on a mutual menu via Deliveroo, get a bit dressed up, pour a glass of wine and find some room on the Zoom for a civilised catch-up. It turns a regular call into the highlight event of the day. You can even go for a movie afterwards using an online platform such as Netflix Party or Disney+ Groupwatch!


Discuss Mental Health Openly

There is no shame in struggling with mental health when you are isolated from the rest of humanity for an extended period of time. What is shameful is pretending that everything is fine and not talking about it. Thankfully there are now tried and tested activities and techniques that have been developed by clinical psychologists to help people strengthen their resilience and better cope with the stress of isolation.

These Quarantine Support Cards from Central Minds are a fantastic resource to include in a care package.


Take A Class Together

One of the hardest things about quarantining is the sheer loneliness. Everything you do, from exercise to eating, is done alone. Why not join your friend in the virtual world by signing up to something together? From an online yoga class to a Masterclass course, share your subscriptions and improve your own skills as well as your friend’s. After all, part of the fun of experiencing something new is talking about it with others afterwards!


Ask Them For Help

Many people in quarantine throw themselves into their work in order to pass the time. With little in the way of distractions, it can even be a productive couple of weeks! But if your friend doesn’t have that sort of job, perhaps they would like to help you out on a project? Online research, copywriting, proofreading, brainstorming ideas or giving feedback can help give your friend back the sense of purpose and achievement that they are missing. 


Know When To Shut Up

So you are hiking Hong Kong’s beautiful country parks, enjoying a socially-distanced picnic in the park, or celebrating a colleague’s birthday with cake galore. Your friend in quarantine would love to see photos of you having a lovely time, knowing that they are being missed, right? Erm… maybe not. Sometimes attempts to make someone feel remembered or included can backfire, and make them feel even more left out than before. Take fraught emotion and sensitivity into account and consider sharing your selfies at a later date.

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