"John Tantillo, Ph.D. is a TV, Radio and Social Media Branding Expert with over 30 years experience in Behavioral Health Care Branding"

 

It’s already been a month since social distancing began. The days are starting to “blend together” and it’s becoming difficult to remember what it was like to “hang out” with other people. With all that’s going on, some may be experiencing feelings of loneliness and social isolation. It’s important to remember that there are still ways to stay socially connected to others while keeping your distance. Here are some tips on how to make virtual connections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Virtual Happy Hours
While bars and restaurants aren’t open, it doesn’t mean all social plans have to go out the window. Making time for a Zoom or FaceTime happy hour with coworkers or friends is one way to stay social while keeping a distance. Another social hangout idea is to have a virtual game night. Grab a mocktail, and catch up with some old friends. 

2. Grab a Workout Buddy
Missing your favorite workout studio? You’re not alone. It’s hard to stay motivated to exercise when you’re on your own and don’t have an instructor pushing you. But as we mentioned in our last post, there are tons of free workouts on Instagram. 
And while you physically can’t drag a friend to a studio with you, you can pick a workout and plan to do it together. Instagram Live workouts can even feel like you’re in a class. You can post a comment and see what fellow class attendees are saying throughout the workout. A lot of the Instagram instructors post their live workout schedule well ahead for the week, so choose a date/time that works best and add it to your calendar. 

3. Check-in on a Friend
With the slower, more relaxing pace of life now is a good time to check-in with an old friend who you may have been “too busy” to contact recently. Pick up the phone and give that person a call to see how they’re doing. You never know if someone is having a hard time during this pandemic, and receiving a call may brighten his or her spirits. Reconnecting is a great way to build and improve your community and social connections. 

4. Virtual Therapy
For some, going into a therapist’s office may not be an option right now.  But that doesn’t mean mental health shouldn’t be a top priority. This is where technology comes in with virtual therapy. A lot of therapists are still seeing patients through video chat or a phone call. This can help patients stay connected with a mental health professional without having to physically go into an office. 

5. Take an Online Class
If you’re not sure what to do with all the free time and want to learn something new, an online class could be the answer. It can keep you engaged while helping you pick up a new skill.  The options are endless, whether you want to learn a new language, improve your graphic design skills or take an art course for the fun of it.  Some popular online platforms are Udemy (https://www.udemy.com/) or Coursera. (https://www.coursera.org/)
While “in-person” socializing is not a current option, there are still ways to feel connected to society and build relationships virtually. Now, more than ever, we need to focus on activities that will help benefit our mental health and ease feelings of social isolation and loneliness.