With the outbreak of COVID-19 in the world, more and more people are being asked to stay indoors, work from home, and socially distance themselves to prevent the spread of the virus. From a health perspective, it’s a crucial preventative strategy. As a social one, though, it’s a little scary to feel cut off from your family, friends, and community. While it’s important to follow the health advice communicated to us by our government and medical representatives, there are some ways to help you stay social and connected, even if you can’t really leave your house.

  1. Give Folks a Call

One of the simplest and most obvious ways to be social is to call or video chat with your friends and family. Phone calls and video chats have in many ways fallen out of favor with the rise of texting and social media apps. (Seriously, when was the last time you wanted to answer your phone?) But given that everyone across the country is in the same predicament it’s a great opportunity to ring folks up – even if it’s only for a quick 5-minute check-in. An even better option? Try Facetime or Google Duo and chat with people, well not exactly face-to-face, but pretty close.

  1. Join an Online Communities with Discussion Boards

Everyone has interests, hobbies, or just things they’re passionate about and one of the great things about the internet is that there is probably already a weird little website devoted to it. Many sites also have community boards where you can discuss with strangers (or friends) everything from big picture ideas and small nuanced details about what you’re passionate in. Google around and more likely than not, you’ll find an online community you can jump into.

  1. Play Some Video Games

We never thought we’d say this on an education blog, but we think you should spend some time playing video games. As many gamers already know, video games are an amazing way to relax and connect with people. If you already have a system (Xbox, PS4, Nintendo Switch) then consider using it as a way to stay in contact with the outside world while unwinding a bit. Even if you don’t the gaming hardware there are still plenty of online, live games that you can join, explore, and chat with people. Remember to keep it in moderation – don’t spend endless hours transfixed by the game – but it’s certainly a good option to feel social without stepping outdoors.

  1. Hang Out Long Distance

Even though we’re social distancing that doesn’t mean we can’t be social. Set up a time with your friends to get online and use video conference resources like ZoomGoogle Hangouts, or Skype to catch up and joke around as if you were out to dinner or coffee. If you miss hanging out with your friends and binge watching your favorite shows or watching movies, Netflix Party allows us to watch together while chatting AOL style. Even though we’re staying inside we can still stay connected.

  1. Text Funny and Silly Things

Calling and video chatting with your friends and family is a must, but you know what else can go a long way towards feeling connected? Texting funny things, sending gifs, or sharing stuff you’re seeing online. Basically, things you probably do every single day. But hey, just because it’s normal everyday behavior for some, doesn’t mean it can’t be spread to others who might appreciate it. Have you introduced your parents, grandparents, etc. the wonders of memes yet? If not, what better time? Be creative, be funny, and be silly. We could all use a little bit of humor and joy right now.

  1. See What’s Happening on Social Media

Now is really social media’s time to shine. While social media certainly has it’s pitfalls (fake news, trolls, bullying, etc.) many of the sites we use every day – like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, TikTok, etc. – can serve as a great way to feel connected without having to actually do anything. So, feel free to peruse your social accounts and see what people are saying about all of this, but remember, social media is not news. People post false and crazy things on there all the time. Use it to connect, but take the claims & reshares with a grain of salt unless confirmed by a reputable news source.

  1. Watch Some of the News…and then Turn it Off

At the end of the day staying informed is important. Hearing what’s happening in your state, city, town, or local community is important for your health and well-being. Knowing can also help you feel more connected and in control of what’s going on. To a point. Make sure to set some restrictions for yourself. Watch the news (trusted news – don’t believe stuff coming from unverified sources!!) and get a sense of what’s happening each day. Then, walk away. Turn off your TV, don’t read your Twitter updates, get offline. Watching too much of the 24-hr news cycle can drive you crazy and send you into a real panic. Stay informed, but do it in moderation.