As we enter the seventh month of 2020, it’s still hard to believe that self-isolation, climbing COVID cases and toilet paper shortages are our reality. Even though we’ve started to get back to some sort of normalcy, so much of our everyday lives has changed. Some of these changes will last well beyond the end of the pandemic. The hardest part of dealing with all the adversities this year has thrown at us is we’ve had to navigate much of it alone or in isolation.
All the social distancing/self-isolation and closed business has made it so difficult to spend time with loved ones and friends. Even grandparents haven’t been able to see their new grandkids because of all the precautions. It’s been a really difficult few months trying to not go insane from being stuck inside with your family so you don’t endanger the lives of others from going out.
But it’s going to be hard to sustain this lifestyle. Something’s gotta give so you still feel connected, while being safe. Especially as cases fluctuate, it’s so important to maintain social distancing. However, this doesn’t mean that you are relegated to disconnecting from your social life 100%.
Here are 5 ways to stay connected during quarantine so you don’t go completely crazy.
1. Write letters
This lost art can quickly become your new love. People don’t do it anymore, but it used to be the only way people could communicate across distance. It’s a little slower and requires a lot more patience, but it’s so much more personal than sending a text. You get to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with someone in their own handwriting. The best part about writing letters is you can save them! They will become a great memento to look back on as you tell future generations about this crazy year.
Stamps cost $0.55 each and you can buy a stamp book good for 10 letters for about $5. Envelopes cost about $9 for 100-count and paper is $15 for 500 sheets if you buy printer paper. Most likely, you already have paper and pens around your house, and you can buy stamps all over the place. This is really a cost effective and easy way of communication. Plus, the touch of nostalgia might be nice for older generations who will be reminded of their youth by the letters. Since you can’t see family, write to them and give them something to look forward to in the mail other than bills!
2. Schedule video chat dates
Be realistic, you sit there and tell yourself to call someone but never do it. Then before you know it, months have gone by and you haven’t done a simple task like pick up the phone and check in on someone. Modern technology has made it easier than ever to get face time with people all over the world. Whether you use FaceTime, Skype, Google Duo, Zoom, whatever, you have so many options at your disposal. Find the one that works for you and use it.
The next step is scheduling a time to talk to your loved ones. There’s no shame in setting reminders or putting it in your calendar to call someone. We’re humans, we get busy and forget. Writing it down and giving yourself a visual cue to get that done makes it a lot easier to keep up with friends and family. If your friends are just as busy as you, it may do you both a favor to set a date, put it in both calendars and hold to it. Regardless how busy you get, without community, you’ll be miserable. So, whatever you’re doing can wait while you spend 30 minutes chatting with your friends and family. Set the date, choose the platform, and get some valuable face time to help you stay connected during quarantine.
3. Host virtual game or movie nights
Personally, one of my favorite group activities is getting together to play board games or watch shows. However, that’s so incredible difficult during this time. You don’t know where people have been and try to limit large gatherings. This makes it so hard to get together with friends and hang out like you did before the world started ending. Don’t fret. There are online solutions to the issue. They’re not perfect, but they’re good enough to get you through this tough time.
One option is a Netflix Watch Party. It’s not terribly difficult to set up and all someone has to do is have a Netflix account and Google Chrome. Install the extension and follow the directions to set up a movie night. The only drawback is you can’t talk to each other during the movie. Your only option is to chat, unless you FaceTime while you’re watching the show. For games, Scrabble has an online version as well as Skribbl, a digital version Pictionary. Here’s a list of 7 Online Games perfect for Groups!
4. Virtual happy hour
No one loves a good happy hour like my friends and I. We are constantly scouring the city for new happy hour deals with good foods and even better drinks. Even though there are some restaurants open, who wants to go sit in a potentially infectious place with a face mask and buy over-priced drinks? That takes away from the experience of hanging out and relaxing at your favorite spot. Virtual happy hours give you the comfort you need and the drinks you want. Just schedule a time with your friends to hop on Zoom or Google Hangout, make your own drinks, and have a good time.
Don’t feel like a bartender? It’s okay, don’t overthink it. The simplest thing you can do is buy your favorite bottle of wine, spritzer, beer or liquor and drink it straight. However, if you want to get a little fancy, start out with premixed mixes and just add the recommended alcohol. Here are 10 of the Best Margarita Mixes that you can try out. Since quarantine gives you nothing but time, get a little creative with Pinterest or other cocktail recipes.
5. Social distance gathering
Whenever you feel comfortable, this may be the next progression in COVID social contact. Outdoor spaces and face masks are the safest bets for hanging out in groups. Keep the group small and ensure everyone has at least six feet in between them. It’s pretty warm outside this summer, so make sure everyone has plenty of water and shade. Outdoor grilling or movie nights are great ideas. All you need is a sheet, projector, and computer and you can have your own outdoor movie night. Everyone can bring their own blankets, chairs, and snacks and enjoy some time together.
Driveway happy hours and drive by parties have become the thing of the last few months. It’s not ideal, but it’s a little something to hold you over until it is safe to be together again. It’s important to keep track of everyone who is at the gatherings and make sure that if someone tests positive, to inform everyone that is there. Masks are no fun, but they are one of the most effective ways to keep everyone safe that is in attendance.
COVID was not what anyone had on their bingo card for 2020, but this is our reality. However, that doesn’t mean you have to let all the restrictions win. There are ways around the drawbacks of social distancing. You just have to have a little patience, creativity, and understanding that it’s not normal, but it works. Stay healthy and call your loved ones.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Darian Dozier is an incoming first year medical student and the owner of Melanated and Meducated, medical school and wellness blog. She enjoys writing, hanging out with family, food, and a good cocktail. Overall wellness is important for a balanced life and live decided, choosing to find the joy in a life of surprises.