How virtual community can help you hit your wellness goals

Social distancing doesn’t have to mean going it alone. Sync with a healthy support network and stay fired up in your journey.
Published April 22, 2020

If social distancing has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t have to share physical space to feel connected to something bigger. At WeightWatchers®, we’ve witnessed the phenomenon firsthand, with members in our Virtual Workshops coming together via video every week to support and celebrate each other’s journeys in deeply meaningful ways.

While life may not exactly feel normal right now, it doesn’t have to feel disconnected. Here’s how to nurture and get the most from your virtual wellness circle—however you choose to fill it.

Cast a wide net.  

No question: It’s weird not being able to see other humans in person. The upside may be that with face-to-face commitments taking up a smaller share of people’s time, physical proximity is less important for building connections. So, consider using this moment to tap people far and wide who can best support your journey right now. For instance, your foodie sister-in-law lives two provinces away? Perhaps you two could prep healthy Sunday meals over video together. Or, join a virtual book club devoted to inspiring reads. Seek out those who can fuel your passion for living well, and let your virtual dream team defy distance.

Sweat in sync.  

Your favourite fitness class may be on hiatus, but that doesn’t mean you have to work out all by your lonesome. For your next session, consider hopping on a video call with a friend and streaming a workout together. (Video conferencing apps such as Zoom allow for the easy sharing of screens.) People are more likely to stick with their fitness regimens when they perceive support from their closest contacts, a 2011 study in Psychology of Support and Exercise found. Plus, it can be nice to commiserate with someone in real time while groaning through those sets of squats.

Create common goals. 

When daily life unfolds in physical isolation, conversations can sometimes feel like a game of catch-up—the old “how was your week?” rut. While these friendly recaps have their place, looking toward the future and setting some intentions with your socially distanced squad may help strengthen bonds and support your personal wellness journey. Start with goals that feel attainable—a shared intention to, say, walk an extra 10 minutes a day or begin the following morning with a brief mindfulness exercise. Then check in afterward: How did everyone do? Mutual experiences can help create a feeling of accountability and support—not to mention enrich relationships.

Share; don’t compare.

With so many video calls and social media posts staged inside homes right now, we’re getting an unprecedented peek into each others’ private lives—leaving some of us with the nagging feeling of not measuring up. Indeed, passively absorbing others’ social media posts can sometimes spark envy and negatively affect mindset, research suggests. If you enjoy the connectivity of social media, try switching gears by proactively celebrating your network’s triumphs—whether your friend’s epic workout or your brother’s five-star quarantine dinner. Their wins don’t define or diminish your own, notes Zoe Griffiths, WW’s global director of nutrition. Then, go ahead and share your successes, even just to post a half-focused selfie with a fun caption like, “Got off the couch for some fresh air and sunshine today!” Positive sentiment spreads through social networks, as well. Right now, a great message to pass along is: We’re all doing our best—and that’s more than enough.

Lucy Shanker is a copywriter at WW. Beyond, the Chicago-born, NYC-based food and culture writer's work has appeared on Consequence of Sound,The Independent, Spindle Magazine, and more.