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The importance of staying socially connected

May-06-2020

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As we continue to do our part to relieve the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak by staying safely sheltered in our homes, it’s important to keep in contact with others. Over the past few weeks, we’ve adopted lifestyle changes we never could have expected when the new year began. But as the virus lingers in our communities, we can still remain socially connected while social distancing.

 

The benefits of socializing

We wrote about the health benefits of social connectedness back in November, and those benefits are still relevant today, despite the need for safe isolation. Without in-person interactions, you may have felt sad or even tired over the last month. Even though you can’t physically be near those outside your home, it’s still important for your well-being to be in touch.

 

What can you do to stay connected?

 

So, what are the best ways for you and the people in your life to “get together,” whether it’s online or over the phone? 
 
Some popular ideas include:

  • Using video conferencing apps, such as Skype, Messenger, Zoom, FaceTime®, Google Hangouts™ and Houseparty. If you’re not familiar with these apps, call your friends and family ahead of time to see if they’re already using a particular app. They can help you set-up an account and walk you through it! You can also find app descriptions by searching the products in your device’s app store.
  • Playing online virtual games through your computer, tablet, smartphone or gaming system. Some of these even have built-in communication options, so you can talk directly with other players. 
  • Trying new recipes together, using video chat. Swap recipes with friends and family members, and teach them what to do, or have them teach you! You can even find a new recipe online that neither of you have tried and make it together. Then you can have a dinner party and talk about what you like about the dish—you can even invite additional “guests” when it’s dinner time!
  • Working out with a partner or group—virtually! Using video chat, you can still sweat it out with your gym buddies by streaming the same workout videos or practicing yoga together. This helps your mental health, along with your physical health!
  • Starting a book club. If you and your friends have found you’ve been reading more during quarantine, it’s a perfect time to share what you’re reading in a group discussion.
  • Sending letters by mail. If you get a little tongue-tied on phone calls or video chats, consider connecting with others the old-fashioned way—by sending notes or cards through the mail. If it helps you to stay connected by writing things out on paper, do so by sharing your thoughts, updates, recipes, etc. with the people in your life.
  • Enjoying viewing parties. Scheduling time with a group to watch shows or movies together through video chat can be a fun, relaxing way to share time with others. 
  • Volunteering online. As the quarantine continues, there are lots of charities that could use help to continue their services. It’ll also help you connect with other volunteers and those in need.
  • Using social media—but in limited doses. Posting stories and photos of how you’re doing and seeing how others are as well can greatly help us stay connected. But if you’re finding yourself on social media a lot, it could have the opposite effect and allow too much negativity into your life. If that’s the case, it’s a good time to cut back or even take a break for several days.

 

Whichever ways you choose to connect with others, be sure to balance it so you’re not overloading your personal time. Also, remember connecting with others should be fun and enjoyable, not a chore. So, if you’re invited to an online gathering you aren’t comfortable with, don’t begrudgingly join—skip that one and choose how to connect with the people you care about in another way.

 

Find additional resources for staying healthy at home by visiting our COVID-19 resources page.

 

This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.

 

Sources:

https://www.healthiergeneration.org/articles/5-ways-to-stay-socially-connected-while-physically-distant

 

http://depts.washington.edu/uwcssc/content/staying-connected-during-covid-19

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-mild-cognitive-impairment/201606/the-health-benefits-socializing