I struggled with what to write and frankly whether I should write a blog about socializing during this pandemic. However, I decided that I might be able to provide some helpful ideas during this chaotic time and maybe you can share some with me too!
First off, I am so thankful for my (truly) constant canine companion, Dobby, for keeping me company. Many people, such as myself, live alone and have been entirely cut off from their family and friends. Heck, some people are sick of the people they are in isolation with. With all that in mind, my hope is that this month’s blog will give you some ideas for how to remain connected to your community and take care of your emotional well being while you are isolated at home.
It is abundantly clear by now that we all need to stay home and minimize any public outings to do our part to flatten the curve. As the brother of a hospital worker, let me just reiterate — stay at home! So now that we have established that we are all trapped inside, how do we maintain a healthy social life before we crack and start making dance videos with our dog (not that I have done that)? There is a lot of research out there that speaks to the importance of socialization to our mental and physical health, if you need some evidence fear not, I have a link to a New York Times article.
So in order to keep us all healthy and happy, please allow me to present some of the coping mechanisms that I have put into practice or gathered from my friends and family. Many of these ideas are pretty common at this point, but I hope you find something new in this list.
There is an app for that!
Normally I am not into relying too much on my phone for stimulation, but I like most of you have found it necessary to use my phone a lot more to escape the solitude. Here are a few apps that have proved particularly useful at keeping me in touch with people:
- Marco Polo – This one allows you to leave video messages so you can see one another and chat throughout the day without setting up a live video chat. Plus it also has some excellent voice effects!
- Google Hangout – Most of us are familiar with this one. It is a great option for anyone with Gmail (that’s everyone, right?) to video chat one-on-one or in a group for free! You don’t need to purchase a Zoom account, but they are useful, see below.
- House Party – This is the secret weapon that my friend introduced me to last week. You can video chat and play built-in games with a group for free. There are games like trivia, Chips and Guac (Apple To Apple rip off), quick draw, and Heads Up (Thank you Ellen for being everywhere). The other cool thing is that this one is also a Google Chrome extension that lets you share screens, so you can watch shows or movies together and feel less guilty about your quarantine binge-watching.
You don’t have to drink alone
There are lots of creative ways to set up times to socialize with your friends. Here are a few!
- Video Happy Hour – Even my parents have figured this one out! Use FaceTime, Google Hangout, or Zoom if you have an account and set up a happy hour to catch up with friends and have a beverage of your choice – which could be lemonade but hard times might call for a hard drink. You could even add a drinking game and take a sip every time someone talks over someone else — though that could escalate quickly. You can play your own games to spice it up too, try charades or Pictionary. The point is don’t drink alone. Hint: Make a calendar invite and share it with everyone so they know when to login because what even is time when you are quarantined?!
- Dinner Dates – I decided that it was too depressing having all my meals alone and I didn’t like eating on the floor with Dobby, so I started scheduling dinner with friends. It sounds like a weird ASMR thing just eating over video chat, but it’s actually really nice to casually catch up with friends and family while you eat dinner. Just like in real life, it almost makes you feel normal. Just make sure everyone knows if you should have you meal ready at the scheduled time or if everyone if cooking, otherwise it’s awkward.
Share activities and ideas
Its time to get creative. With the collective brainpower of your network, there are lots of great ideas for how to socialize and build community. Heck, just brainstorming allows you to connect and socialize with a purpose.
- Donate to help your community – This tip won’t necessarily include socializing, but it will help you stay connected to your community. If you are in a position to help, do what you can. Here are some worthy causes that we can all support with our time, talent, or treasure. Ask your friends for more ideas, that’s how I made this list!
- Donate to the NH Food Bank or your local Food Pantry to help them provide meals to those who are hungry during the crisis.
- Donate blood with the American Red Cross, there is a shortage because we are all staying home, but they are making sure it is safe and there are lots of Blood Drives around the state where you can set up an appointment.
- Donate to the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation to help those who were laid off as restaurants close their doors. They have set up a specific COVD-19 Relief Fund to help workers.
- Help protect our hospital workers! If you can donate supplies to the hospitals, do so! You can also look into programs to help you make masks for healthcare workers or start your own as these women did in Dover.
- Donate to the United Ways COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund to help provide information, food, and support to those who are struggling at this time.
- Workouts – Remember my blog about “getting physical?” Me neither, but I
hear it was good. Just because we are at home doesn’t mean we should be couch potatoes, I am talking to you Dobby! Asking for workout recommendations from friends is a great excuse to talk to them and get a great YouTube workout that you can pretend you did in the process. Better yet find one of the creative people offering workout classes via live video to feel connected to other people and get sweaty in the process. That reminds me, you are showering regularly during this time, right? Me too…
- Exchange Recipes – Ask your most culinary-minded friend to share their favorite recipe and then actually make it (you have the time). Tell them how it went, maybe even share some pictures if you didn’t burn it. This could play nicely with your video chat dinner too!
The thing is don’t be shy if you are feeling restless, stir crazy, or lonely. Call a friend; schedule a video chat. I think it is important to ask for what you need during this wild time. We are in this together; so be kind, treat other people with kindness, and treat yourself with kindness.