40 Ways to Stay Social During the Coronavirus Quarantine
NOTE: Our thanks to PARADE and NICOLE PAJER for this helpful content.
1. Stay in contact: Social distancing, says Heather Cosimin, an associate professor of psychology at the College of Arts & Sciences at Johnson & Wales University, doesn’t mean you should cut yourself off. “Continue to connect with friends and loved ones by text, email and phone,” she adds.
2. Celebrate milestones with a virtual hangout: “My friend, Matt Bordofsky, turned 42 today and approximately 29 friends (and their dogs) showed up via Zoom to celebrate with him,” says Keren Poznansky, a publicist in Los Angeles. She noted that this celebration brought together friends from all across the globe— “the furthest person was from Lithuania.” The party, says Poznansky, started at 8:30 p.m. “We poured some drinks and toasted the birthday boy. We made each other laugh by putting up our favorite vintage photos of the man of the hour as backgrounds from the ’80s, ’90s, etc. We all sang happy birthday and he blew out the candles on his Commissioner Gordon Batman ’89 cake,” she shares. “Matt made a speech, he thanked everyone for coming, we all cheered and it ended around 9 p.m.”
3. Keep up with your workout buddy: “Workout with friends,” suggests Stephanie Newman, PhD, a psychologist, psychoanalyst and author of Barbarians at the PTA. “If solitary exercise is a downer, set up a common time to practice yoga or cardio by videoconference,” she says.
4. Share a toast with a virtual happy hour: To keep up with her network, Renee Paczkowski, an administrative assistant in Troy, Michigan, is meeting up with friends for scheduled virtual happy hours. “Two of my friends and I used to regularly go to trivia or local breweries, but hadn’t had the chance to lately because life got too busy. And, as all of us are working at home to some extent, and it’s not possible to go out, I suggested that we have a virtual happy hour over either FaceTime (we all have iPhones) or Hangout,” she says. The first one is scheduled for Friday and for Packowski, the drink of choice will be whiskey.
5. Be extra neighborly: Connect with neighbors by bringing lunch or dinner to the bottom of your driveway, your porch, deck or other safe distance location and waving to each other, recommends Carroll. She says that while many of our neighborhoods look like ghost towns, “it can be comforting to know we are all here, making the best of a difficult situation and reducing the feeling of isolation.”
6. Teach each other a new skill: Sarah Agajanian, an artist in Los Angeles, recently logged onto FaceTime to have her pal, Michele Hodeda, led her in a cooking class. “She taught me how to make mushrooms and walnut tacos. She’s an amazing cook. And it was such a cool experience!” she says, joking that while the chef prepared to teach, the student watched and jump roped in her parking garage. “It really made time go by quickly an truthfully felt like a full blown hangout session,” adds Agajanian.
7. Volunteer from afar: If you’re looking for ways to give back while getting involved with others, Newman suggests starting challenges with friends. “Identify those in need and raise money. Or start a movement: Drive traffic to a Facebook page or social sites set up to thank first responders of— healthcare professionals,” she says. Newman adds that this can be a great time to send a little love those who are on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus. “Each person can take a photo or film a round of applause with a message of thanks and pass it on. It’s cliché but helping someone else makes us feel good,” she explains.
8. Take weekly meetups into the virtual world: “My choir teacher Greg Delson leads a community choir where we meet every Tuesday and we had our first virtual choir session this week. We decided it’s still a nice way for our community to stay connected and do the thing we love most—sing!” says Tanya Khani, aka “the Soulful Publicist.” She adds that she’s also been popping in on her teacher’s virtual sing alongs/variety show for the past two nights and sang with him. “It was soul nourishing,” she reveals.
9. Swap some stories with an online community: To get through the solitude of the coronavirus lockdown, Jennifer Brody, author of The Continuum Trilogy, is turning to the support of her online author’s group, BookPod. “We have a newsletter and ongoing community. We may start some virtual workshops too during this time. It’s become a real support,” she says.
10. Meet up for an almost in-person meal: “My mom, brother and I all got into separate cars and parked in a deserted lot by the beach to have a picnic! We were able to wave, see each other, and talk (kind of) face-to-face,” says Southern California-based musician, Ariana Savalas. She jokes that during this time while she dined on chips and soda, “the dogs were confused, but at least it was something!”
11. Make some fun future plans with pals: You aren’t jetting off to Europe anytime soon but why not put together your dream trip with your favorite travel buddies. “Planning travel or local outings that you want to do together when the crisis is over is a great way to tap into anticipation and positive emotion,” says Carroll. Dream up which restaurants you will dine at and what you will eat, the essential landmarks to see, and all of the excursions that you want to embark upon while you are out of town. The trip will be waiting for you when the coronavirus pandemic dies down.
12. Engage your kids: “I’ve been organizing FaceTime ‘play dates’ with my daughters’ friends,” says Paula Hoss, founder and CEO of Cln & Dirty Natural Skincare. Each day, she says, her kids are treated to a surprise call with a friend or family member. “They get three clues as to who it is and they’ve loved guessing who is up next.”
13. Honor your monthly book club: “You’ve finally read the book and this month’s group got canceled. Now what? Slip into your cozy slippers and host it online,” says Ellen Wasyl, an executive life coach at Privé-Swiss Wellness in Connecticut. She suggests using a platform like Zoom, Google Hangout or Skype to arrange the meetup. And this is a great way to discuss something other than the coronavirus.
14. Reacquaint yourself with good some old-fashioned letter writing: “Giving and receiving, yes please! If you don’t have the materials on hand or can’t get out to the post office for stamps and mailing, there are online options,” says Wasyl. Her personal favorites? Postable and Greetabl.
15. Rediscover your connections from the past. Call your “long-lost” cousins, friends, coworkers, colleagues, classmates who have been on the “back burner” of your life for a few years. “Have reunions! Someone will be glad to hear from you,” says Val Walker, author of 400 FRIENDS AND NO ONE TO CALL: Breaking Through Isolation and Building Community. This, she says, can mutually help alleviate anxiety and loneliness, as well as strike up some fun and heart-warming companionship. “You can probably Skype or videoconference your visit—but at least call them,” adds Walker.
16. Host a virtual game night:” Line up a few friends or couples and break out a trivia game,” Wasyl says. Make your own snacks, get your own drinks ready, divide up into teams and do your best to conquer.
17. Get Crafty: Another idea, says Walker, is to make personalized gifts and thoughtful cards for loved ones and friends. “Get crafty with paintings, decorated boxes, hand-beaded jewelry, pillows, knitted wear, quilts, kids puppets, clothing and fabric, decorated with fabric-markers,” she suggests. “Pinterest is full of fun craft ideas for families, kids, seniors. Take photos and send these too.” Walker explains that crafting, hands-on projects and making art, doodling and coloring books are very healing and calming for anxiety.
18. Make a lunch date: “Pick a day and time to virtually eat lunch together once a week,” says Dr. Amanda Holdsworth, the director of PR and brand strategy for Reink Media Group in Royal Oak, Michigan, who has been doing this with her friends over Google Hangouts Meet for the past few Tuesdays. She also engages in virtual coffee sessions with colleagues. “Recently, I was incredibly bummed out when my family’s dream trip to Copenhagen was canceled. But, one of my colleagues suggested having our morning coffee together via Hangouts the next day, just like we would if we were in the office. It sure helped my mental and emotional state!” she reveals.
19. Dance it out together: Melissa Drake, the author of TranscenDANCE: Lessons From Living, Loving, and Dancing and a life coach recently hosted her first virtual dance party to help others commune and dance. The “Mid-Week Dance Day – Quarantine Style” was a great way for her network to come together to literally “shake it off.”
20. Family time: Silvia M. Dutchevici, president and founder of Critical Therapy Center in New York City, says a coronavirus quarantine can be the perfect time to rally the family together for some cozy time together. “Projects such as: arts and crafts, drawing, reading, or even watching a movie together and then discussing, it can feel less scary,” she explains. Another great activity to do with your clan, per Dutchevici, is to think of ways that you can help – “either leaving some canned food for a neighbor, or volunteering to take a walk with a lonely friend or neighbor while keeping your distance.” These acts of kindness, she says, will make us feel connected to one another, and ultimately less lonely.
21. Wrangle your network and share your favorite movies, music playlists, books, podcasts, and blogs: Then, Walker says to follow up by talking about the shared experience by phone – “Lots of folks love to talk about a mutually inspiring and favorite movie or book together.” Or set up a Facebook chat group to talk about the things that are helping us all hold on during these times.
22. Connect with like-minded individuals to discuss interests and experiences: Try an app of forum that connects you with a community of those in your same shoes. Peanut, for instance, provides moms with a safe networking and open dialogue space. And if you are into plant-based eating, you can join a community like Vegan Recipes for Beginners.
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23, Get the gang together–virtually: Don’t let the coronavirus keep your group from continuing to bond. Khani and her girlfriends have found a new way to connect by scheduling “girl gang” weekly video calls. “It’s a time of support and hearing each other out and sharing new insights on what’s really happening with us emotionally and spiritually while we are on this new journey together,” she says.
24. Keep your support groups going: If you’ve been counting on a weekly or monthly support group to get you through the hard times, you’ll likely need it more than ever in the midst of all of the coronavirus panic. Thus talk to group organizers to get meetings like AA, NA, Al-Anon, step studies, church groups, etc. set up virtual meetings. This, says Jessica Tate, the regional clinical director at Landmark Recovery, will “help to limit the in-person interaction, while still receiving the benefits of social interaction.”
25. Get outdoors: Hiking and walking is fine, as long as you keep a 6-foto distance from those around you. “The AllTrails app helps connect users to local trails, something that can help us all feel a little more normal right now,” says Suzanne Bartlett-Hackenmiller an integrative medicine physician and OBGYN. Share new favorite hikes with outdoorsy friends and challenge them to try the same ones, while also providing recommendations for others that have been given their official stamp of approval.
26. Plan the same activities with your friends: “My friend, Briana, and her sons drew pictures of leprechauns for St. Patrick’s Day. Briana sent a photo to me and my friend, Marisa, of their family holding the finished creations. She also sent us the link to the YouTube video ‘How to Draw a Leprechaun,’” says Ali Wenzke, the Chicago-based author of The Art of Happy Moving. Inspired by the activity, Wenzke reveals that she and her kids then took a turn at drawing leprechauns, which they were then inspired to share. “We sent each other photos and it felt so good to be connected,” she recalls.
27. Spend meaningful technology-free time with the people you live with: When was the last time you put your phone away and watched a movie with your significant other? Or turned your phone off and colored with your child? “Use this time to disconnect from technology and spend face-to-face time with the people around you,” says Chad Brandt, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Houston OCD Program.
28. Get thankful with your community: “When the Corona Virus pandemic started, I saw how many people were scared and decided that I would start a 14 day gratitude challenge on Facebook because one of the biggest antidotes to fear is gratitude,” says Jocelyn Kuhn, a certified transitional life coach and the author of Thriving Through Transitions. She notes that by the end of the first day, there were 150 people in the group. “Now I get to interact with people everyday for 14 days who are either like-minded and were looking for something positive to be a part of, or who are in need of support and were looking for a place to find hope,” she adds.
29. Don’t forget about your coworkers: While many of us have been sent off to work from home, you may be feeling isolated and cut off from your normal water cooler talk. Thus, Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital, suggests setting up a video meeting with your coworker. “We take for granted how much our work life is a part of our social life. ‘Seeing’ people makes a big difference so try for audio instead of video,” she advises.
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30. Post about your local small businesses: Many businesses are taking a hit right now and social media is a powerful word-of-mouth tool. Thus, Mae Karwowski, founder & CEO of influencer marketing agency, Obviously, suggests using your social media accounts right now to make local recommendations to a friend or family. “Post about a good delivery menu at a family-owned restaurant, encourage people to buy gift cards to your favorite small boutique, or post about your hairstylist so they still have a pipeline of referrals even while things are on hold.” Ask your network for referrals as well. This will give everyone something to look forward to when things get back up and running again.
31. Take your dog for a walk: Going out to get some exercise and fresh air is not only good for you physically but it provides opportunities to interact with others (from a safe distance). “As you stroll through your neighborhood, speak to your neighbors while remaining 6-feet away. Ask them how they’re doing. And if you see older folks who may have trouble getting out, make a special effort to find out how they’re doing,” says Jeanne Hurlbert, PhD, president of Hulbert Consulting and chief data officer of Smart Counseling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
32. Connect with your overseas crew: is the best time to connect with friends or family overseas. Mike Hanski, a teacher and online tutor for high school students with Bid4Papers, explains that life gets busy and catching up with those outside of your time zone can be a challenge. But now that that you’re both likely on house arrest, he suggests taking this chance to catch up and talk. “You’ll both be thankful to have had this opportunity,” he explains.
33. Try something new: During the coronavirus pandemic, and our current state of encouraged and/or mandated quarantine, it’s a perfect time to try something new, says Jay Shifman, an addiction and mental health speaker, writer, consultant, and advocate in Daniel Island, South Carolina. “I had to cancel an in person workshop I was leading, so I am moving it online and inviting another leader to join me,” he says. “A comedian friend and I are going to start a daily Trivia game on Instagram Live to entertain people and give people a chance to feel connected and intertwined with others while quarantined.” Don’t be afraid, says Shifman, to use this time to get creative “because we’re all experimenting trying to find ways to continue our work and connect with others!”
34. Make some 5-year plans: During this time of hunkering inside, Kathryn Ely, an associate licensed counselor, coach, and podcaster, suggests getting together with your partner and talking about the future. “Create a one, five, and 10 year plan,” she says, adding that “hoping and dreaming for the future will keep you from getting too caught up in what is going on right now and will help you remember this too shall pass.”
35. “Go” to the movies together: Select a film to stream and set up your own little watch party on social media. Invite friends and tweet comments about shows as you are watching them, suggests Dr. Richelle Whittaker, an educational psychologist, mental health therapist in Houston, Texas. “Or just hop on the phone, Skype, or FaceTime with others as you are movies. It’s connection through a different medium,” she says.
36. Netflix and chill together: “There’s a Google Chrome extension that allows you to watch Netflix with other people by using your own personal invite link,” says Lindsay Musgrove, a certified peer specialist in Houston, Texas. To do this, she says, you need Google Chrome, and the Netflix Party extension through the Google Chrome store within the same browser. “Install it, and you are able to watch Netflix with someone long distance, as well as having a dedicated personal chat room with them. It may seem like they are far away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t Netflix and Chill apart.”
37. Share your skills with the world virtually: Jessica Meyrowitz is helping others learn to knit, and relax, via her newly created virtual Yummy Mindful Knitting “I provide group workshops via video conferencing,” she says, noting that this allows participants to be socially distant and still be connected. “I instruct participants each step of the way and they are able to socialize with the other video conference attendees,” she says.
38. Make some time for play: Danielle Maack, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist with Licensed Clinical Psychologist with Delta Autumn Counseling, challenges those staying at home to engage their partner or family (or via video conferencing if quarantined alone) to get in touch with their artistic sides. “Give yourself permission to try out that new recipe, make some playdough and create a priceless sculpture. Bring out that guitar you bought last year and swore you would play and actually play. Sing together!” she says. Being actively creative, adds Maack, can help to “slow down daily pressures, open a door to experimenting, offer opportunities to connect with others about new experiences, and provide you an excuse to ‘play,’ even in difficult times.”
39. Start a garden with your family: “Gardening is a great way to bond, and it’s also been shown to decrease anxiety,” explains Viktor Sander, a counselor at. SocialPro, in Gothenburg, Sweden. He suggests getting your family together and asking everyone what they want to grow—“it could be something edible, beautiful, or fun.” Order the seeds online. This, he says, gives you all a common purpose, a sense of personal pride, and makes you a stronger family.
40. Share Coping Strategies with Social Network: Maggie Lee Baker, a small business owner of Magali Designs decided to host a weekly Zoom call with her Facebook network. “This is a bit of a social experiment to see who of my Facebook network of 773 friends would reply to my post asking for a virtual Zoom call to discuss how we are all coping with the current reality,” she says. Topics such as working from home, recipe swapping, keeping kids busy and not crawling up the walls, and how people are tackling care of their mental health are all on the table, Lee Baker says. “What we won’t be discussing are topics such as politics, Covid-19 symptoms, scary statistics or anything else that we can find in the news. I want to keep uplifting, constructive and personal,” she explains. The first session is scheduled for Thursday and will, per Lee Baker, include people from all walks of her life – “from old co-workers, to childhood friends to family in California, North Carolina and Hawaii. I will end the call asking each person to commit to one small act of kindness in the coming week to report back on.”