The uncertainty of the social isolation timeline likely stokes anxiety. Staring down weeks of  possible boredom, sameness, and restriction can lead to lethargy and low mood. Positive input is important. Joy, satisfaction, and connection are critical. So how do we access these things during a time of upheaval and a newly required hermit lifestyle? Stay connected to family and friends.

You may be back at home with your parents and unable to visit friends. Or maybe you are stuck in your house or an apartment far from your family. Whatever your situation, you can still find connection despite physical distance. You have likely already been doing it, but with less structure and a lot more Coronavirus related anxiety, it might be hard to remember. So here’s a list. Consider scheduling some of these activities into your week so you don’t forget to rely on them.

Call family and friends using phone and video: This one can be pretty basic, but it’s important to remember and even schedule into your day. Use FaceTime to see each other or apps like MarcoPolo to send video messages. Using zoom you can include multiple friends on one screen which can be useful if you are hosting a digital dinner party or other group activities like a book club or study group.

Chat groups:  You can also set up more informal chats if you or your friends may be camera shy. Using platforms like Slack, Groupme, GoogleChat, Signal, you can keep in touch with family, groups of friends, or classmates while also juggling other tasks.

Remote movie screening: Using a platform like Discord one person can share their movie screen and audio with up to 50 others. Though you might not be that ambitious for your movie night, you can watch with a few buds and make comments on the plot development via chat without the headache of everyone trying to hit play at exactly the same moment.

Board games with friends: You can try playing classics with your friends or use apps on your phone. For those with more involved board game tastes or those seeking something competitive and fun to occupy some free time you can check out websites like Steam or Tabletopia which have an assortment of free board games, as well as those you can purchase. You can play with people you already know who have set up accounts or you can play with other budding board game enthusiasts. If you set up a game night with friends you can zoom while simultaneously playing so you can have an added element of human connection. It can help with the fun that comes with trash talking too.

Dicebreaker has a useful article for figuring out the logistics: https://www.dicebreaker.com/categories/board-game/how-to/how-to-play-board-games-online

Be a helper: What can you do to be of service to the people in your life and community that might be having a difficult time? Think of people more at risk for illness, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and those juggling a lot of responsibilities. While it feels great to be supported, it can be just as meaningful to be the helper. Options for helping might be more limited right now, but you might be able to call isolated or elderly family members, pick up groceries for someone or help a local food bank share food. You can even donate blood. Of course, assess the risk for yourself and be sure to take all precautions to keep yourself safe, healthy, and socially distant.

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