With the spread of coronavirus, many of our routines have changed drastically in a short time. With the exception of essential workers (and those who already worked from home) the rest of us are now navigating a new all-at-home routine that we’ve never needed to have before.
Social distancing is the main thing we can do to help slow the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. And while staying at home unless absolutely necessary (for healthcare, grocery shopping, etc.) seems simple enough it’s common for it to feel like a jarring transition. We are social creatures, after all, and social distancing has made it trickier to maintain our regular social ties and routines.
But social distancing doesn’t have to mean complete isolation. (And, in fact, it shouldn’t!)
While it is important for our physical health to keep our distance from others, it is equally important for our mental health to find new ways to remain social and connected in this stressful time.
So how can you stay connected and still practice social distancing? Our Houston therapists put together a list of ideas you can try to maintain your social ties during this uncertain time.
Have virtual happy hour
Do you have a group of friends you usually meet up with after work for food or drinks? Well, going to a restaurant or a bar is out of the question for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean the tradition has to end! Get on one of the many video call apps (skype, zoom, facetime, etc.) and have a virtual happy hour with your group. Everyone can grab their own drink or snack from their own kitchen and get together to chat and catch up without having to leave their couch or change out of their sweatpants.
Have virtual movie nights
With all this time at home, it’s no wonder we’re all turning to Netflix so much. But instead of streaming alone in your living room, text a friend and see what they’re watching. Is there a movie you’ve been wanting to see? Ask them if they want to watch it at the same time! You can skype while you watch, or text, or try out this new Chrome extension that lets you sync up what you’re watching and chat in the Netflix app.
Create an online book club
If you love to read, chances are you’ve got a list of books you’ve been wanting to read–if only you had the time! Well, now, with shelter-in-place in effect in so many places across the country, many of us are looking at a lot more free time at home. This can feel stressful and restricting, but it is also a great time to allow yourself to explore new hobbies or dive back into old ones. So take a look at that to-be-read list and find a book you really want to read. Then, text your friends or coworkers and see if any of them want to read it too and have an online or video discussion about it with you!
Meet up at a park
While the word quarantine makes it seem like we’re all being locked in a bubble, you still can go outside. (And it’s actually a great way to take care of yourself!) While you can’t crowd into a small coffee shop or crowded restaurant, you can still see your friends face to face–so long as there’s at least 6 feet of space between you. Meet at a park, bring your own food, and have a well-spaced out picnic.
Go for walks
Or, if picnics and parks aren’t your thing, call up a friend and see if they want to take a walk with you. The sidewalks aren’t as crowded now, with everyone at home, so you’ll have plenty of space to keep your distance. (Note: it is safer to meet up with friends who have also been social distancing. Before meeting up with them, ask what health and safety precautions they have been taking in the last few weeks.)
Teach your friends something
We all have expertise in something. You might not realize it, it might seem silly, but take some time to think about something you know really well (or know how to do really well). Ask your friends to do the same. You can all get together on zoom or skype and take turns teaching each other! It’s a great way to stay social and stimulate your brain while staying home.
Taking care of ourselves is more important now than ever! That includes nourishing our bodies. If you’re used to going out to eat multiple times a week, now might be a hard time for you. If you don’t cook a lot, adjusting to 24/7 at home life can feel like a major struggle. Find a friend who is in the same boat, and see if they want to try the same recipes as you, at the same time. If you’re in different time zones, you can send each other updates about your cooking experiment. But if you’re in the same time zone, see if they want to chat on the phone or on a video call while you both try to cook! It won’t be exactly like being in the kitchen together, but it’s a nice substitute.
Suggest online alternatives to your usual clubs
Do you have clubs or groups you’re already a part of? Or ones on MeetUp you’ve been looking forward to trying out? Suggest a virtual alternative to those clubs. Whether they’re crafting clubs or music clubs, or social activist groups, there’s probably a way you can meet up online.
If you’re still struggling with feelings of isolation or loneliness over the Coronavirus pandemic, you’re not alone. Grief Recovery Center in Houston, TX, can help you process your current situation and find ways to cope.