Keep Up the Physical Distancing, But Slash the Social Distancing: How to Stay Connected as Quarantine Continues
Humans are social by nature and all of us — introverts and extroverts alike — are being tried by this time of social distancing. The term is defined by the CDC as staying 6 feet apart, not gathering in groups, and staying out of crowded places.
All over the world, we are feeling the effects of being inside and only interacting with our housemates — or nobody, if we happen to live alone. The impacts of this quarantine on our mental and physical health will only be revealed in the months and years to come.
Although “social distancing” is just a phrase, to many, it has become a harsh reality. Especially those who deal with depression, loneliness, anxiety, and other mental health challenges are struggling immensely with no real light at the end of the tunnel. According to the American Psychological Association, those that experience loneliness and social isolation are twice as likely to experience physical and mental health issues such as obesity. Isolation can even lead to depression and suicidal thoughts.
Referring to “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing” from the start might have changed the whole vibe around this quarantine. Physical distancing is certainly essential in this time, and social connection is essential as well. Now more than ever, we all must stay connected. Here are some ways to fill the void of physical human interaction:
- Face-to-Face: There are several video chat options, such as Zoom, that can help close the physical gap between us and our loved ones. Although it may be through the phone or computer screen, video calls mimic a more human connection than text and email. Consider planning a hangout session for a group of friends scattered around the country or the world, teaching or taking an online class, or switching to Skype or Facetime with someone you might normally just talk to on the phone.
- Think about hosting a virtual dinner party with a group of friends or relatives! Have everyone plan on having their dinner ready at the same time, set up your computer so everyone in your household can be seen, start the call, and enjoy the company.
- Touch If You Can: If you’re in quarantine with roommates, partners, or family, take advantage and embrace them — if they want. Whether it’s a hug or a high-five, physical touch can make all the difference.
- Talk It Out: If you’re on social media, share your feelings online. Making your voice feel heard is always empowering. Knowing others are feeling the same as you can make you feel less alone.
- Create “quarantine livestream” videos and send them to family and friends to keep them up to date on your activities. Try narrating really mundane events like a sports commentator, or videotape some #justquarantinethings. Making light of the craziness of the time we’re living in can help lift spirits.
- Break out the snail mail! Send handwritten cards or letters to loved ones for birthdays, holidays, or just to say hi. If you’ve got lots of time and stamps on your hands, ask your social media followers/friends to send you their address if they’d like mail. You’ll make someone’s day!
- Tip: just to be extra courteous and safe, seal envelopes using a finger dipped in water or a lightly dampened sponge in order to keep your germs away from your friends and mail carriers.
Remember that the physical space between us is necessary right now, but also remember that it can’t keep us from connecting. Let us know which of these ideas you’ve tried or any other creative ways to connect across the distance!