COVID-19: How to stay connected to family and friends while social distancing

social distancing
COVID-19: How to stay connected to family and friends while social distancing

Maintaining a strong connection with loved ones — even from a distance — is crucial to overall well-being.

All across the country, Americans are taking steps to limit the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. For many, this means following the White House’s current recommendations to stay at home as much as possible, avoiding groups of 10 or more people, and only leaving home when necessary to purchase food or pick up prescriptions. It also means keeping a distance of at least six feet between yourself and others while in public, otherwise known as social distancing.

Although these recommendations have been put in place to protect public health and limit the spread of coronavirus, social distancing can be hard on mental health. This is especially the case if you’re self-isolating without the company of a loved one or pet, or if you suffer from depression or anxiety. It’s difficult not to be able to find comfort in things like a hug from a parent, sharing a meal with extended family, or chatting over coffee with a friend.

Fortunately, social distancing doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the mental and emotional benefits of being with others. Modern technology makes it easier than ever to connect remotely with family, friends, co-workers and classmates while following social distancing guidelines.

Here are some smart tips and tools you can use to keep in touch with the most important people in your life while you practice social distancing.

  1. Use video conferencing technology such as Skype, FaceTime or Zoom to have virtual coffee dates, dinner parties,

    or game nights with your loved ones — even if you’re miles away.

  2. If you work from home, consider scheduling daily team video chats to keep everyone feeling motivated, on task and part of the team. (You can even get everyone together for a virtual happy hour once 5 o’clock rolls around!)

  3. If you attend religious services, many places of worship offer virtual services via online video streaming.

  4. Join your local neighborhood Facebook group, email list or NextDoor page to forge connections with your neighbors. Consider forming volunteer groups to help deliver food or medicine to vulnerable neighbors who may not be able to run these errands on their own.

  5. If you’re feeling otherwise healthy, try to get outside at least once a day for a walk or brisk jog — as long as you avoid large gatherings and maintain a six-foot distance between yourself and others, per social distancing guidelines. Just getting outside and being amongst others (from a safe distance) can do wonders for your mental health.

  6. If you have some extra time on your hands, revive the lost art of letter-writing and write a friend a message by hand rather than over email. Writing out your thoughts and feelings on paper can be therapeutic, and nothing beats the excitement of receiving a heartfelt, hand-written response in the mail.

Now more than ever, it’s important for us all to remember the value of human connection. While you’re practicing social distancing, there are still ways to treasure the special relationships in your life — even if you can’t be together in person.

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