8 Ideas To Make Social Distancing More Social

How long has it been since you hung out with a group of friends? Or hugged someone? Or sat down to eat at a restaurant?

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When not taking care of patients, you’re probably practicing the government’s recommendation of social distancing. Also called physical distancing, the purpose is to slow the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says it involves:
  • Staying at least 6 feet away from other people
  • Avoiding group gatherings
  • Staying out of crowded places

Even if you’re still reporting to your nursing job, social distancing outside of work can take a toll on mental health. Whether it’s stress, anxiety, loneliness, or even depression — it’s important to still feel connected to others during this unique time.

How to Maintain a Connection with Others
While we don’t know exactly how long social distancing recommendations will remain in place, there is hope. You can still “hang out” safely with others during this time. Here are eight ideas to keep yourself from getting too lonely, bored, or anxious while keeping your distance.

1. Schedule virtual “hang outs” with friends and family: Who says social distancing means you can’t be social? You can still gather with people you love, virtually. All it takes is a smartphone, tablet, or a computer plus a strong Internet connection. Then choose a platform to host the gathering — Google Hangouts and FaceTime are free, and Zoom offers a basic plan at no cost.

Some people are even using virtual hang outs to host fun events like birthday parties, happy hours, and holiday gatherings. All attendees can see and hear each other, yet you’re keeping a safe distance. Win-win!

2. Watch a worship service online: If your place of worship is currently closed, check to see if they are offering a virtual service. If not, find a similar worship service online. Many organizations are live streaming their regularly-scheduled worship services on social media channels like Facebook or YouTube.

3. Join an online support group: There are free online support groups for people going through:
  • Depression or postpartum depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Motherhood
  • Grief/loss

There are even online support groups catering to medical professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. One example is Nurses Together, which offers online support exclusively for nurses.

4. Host a virtual game night: Now take the hang out idea mentioned above to the next level with a game night. One option is a virtual gaming platform, which offers party favorites like trivia, drawing contests, and fill-in-the-blank style games you can play remotely. Or bust out the classics with a board game you and your friends have.

For the virtual games, all you need to play is a smartphone, tablet, or a computer and a good Internet connection. One person will need to purchase a subscription to sign in to the program. From there, the platform provides step-by-step directions for getting everyone set up.

5. Start a book club: Once you’re comfortable hosting gatherings with friends virtually, you can get creative with your activities. One idea is to agree on a book to read while social distancing, then meet periodically to discuss it. Intellectual conversations keep relationships healthy and thriving.

6. Attend an exercise or educational class online: Your local gym may be closed to the public, but are they sharing live workouts on their Facebook or Instagram page, or posting workout videos to their website? Maybe you’ve been wanting to take a photography or poetry class for years and there’s one available online. Now is the perfect time to dip your toe into these activities.

7. Have some fun at a safe distance: Just because you’re keeping your distance doesn’t mean you have to totally isolate yourself. Grab a bucket of sidewalk chalk and write inspirational messages on your sidewalk outside. Encourage neighbors to join in to create a “neighborhood gallery.” Another idea: Use dry erase markers to play games and write messages with friends or neighbors on each side of a window or glass door.   

8. Cook the same meal from different locations: Do you have a friend or family member who loves to cook? Plan a cooking date. Agree on a recipe and gather all of the ingredients. Hop on the phone or video conference together while preparing. Use the time to chat and bond over your love of cooking. Then sit back and enjoy the delicious meal.

Stay Connected (And Safe) During COVID-19
Self-care is more important than ever before, especially for nurses. You can still practice social distancing while maintaining a connection with your community. All it takes is some extra creativity.

For other ways to connect with others including warmlines, apps, and peer-to-peer connections, visit The Wellbeing Initiative.
 
Posted by Holly E Carpenter, RN, BSN on May 27, 2020 4:09 PM America/Chicago

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