Keeping the “Social” in “Social Distancing”

Back before quarantine and when I still attended classes, there wasn’t a single moment you found me not talking. Although I am notoriously talkative, I would always be the one to take the time to talk to, catch up with, or friendly debate one of my friends in between or after classes. These conversations often spanned farther then our school times, spilling into phone calls and facetimes until the wee hours of the morning. However, since the pandemic struck, I found myself spending more time talking to myself and my house plants rather than actual other human beings.

After I had started realizing that naming my plants was going a little too far, I set a goal to interact with my friends -- the same people I would spend all night talking too -- to rekindle our connection. After following some of the tips outlined below, I can hopefully move away from asking my plants if they are “ready to be watered” and back to some more normal conversations with my friends.

Software such as Skype, Facetime, and Google Hangouts are free methods to video chat with your family. Seeing another person in real-time, even through a computer screen, can help bridge the missing gap of meeting people in real life. Image courtesy of Windows Report.

Visualize prioritizing your connections as therapeutic

At a very young age when I first watched Cast Away, I didn’t really understand the need for Wilson, or why Tom Hanks’ character needed someone to talk to at all. However, in quarantine, I have realized that connections and conversations with other people is imperative to our mental health and wellbeing. By vocalizing our thoughts to an audience, and receiving an audience’s critique or reaction, we are inherently organizing our thoughts and making them more coherent. Without this, our minds often create streams of consciousness that conflict and zig-zag from one topic to another. After a while, important thoughts and key goals and takeaways are lost in the fuzz. Therefore, interacting with other people is in your best benefit.

By visualizing the time you take out of your busy schedule as self-therapizing, you can prioritize the action of picking up the phone and calling a loved one. By doing this, you are strengthening your bond with someone. Everyone is in the same set of circumstances that we are in -- we are all doing our best to social distance and flatten the curve. So, many people are in the same situation that we find ourselves in, and in the same way that you are helping yourself, you are helping them.

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In the moment, relationships are created to be mutually beneficial. However, relationships may morph into one that is toxic to one of the party members. Quarantine is the perfect time to take a look at these relationships and evaluate them.  Image courtesy of Milewalk.

Take A Moment to Take Stock of Your Relationships

Relationships are hard to maintain, especially when you don’t know where you stand in one. During quarantine, when you aren’t forced to interact with the same people on a daily basis, it is important to step back and have an understanding of the type of place that you left all of your relationships in before we started Social Distancing. If you are on bad terms with someone, the time is perfect to review what happened in your last interaction that led to that relationship ending up in that state, and take stock of what caused that relationship to go ary in the first place.

We have all been in relationships that we have, in hindsight, realized were not the most healthy, mentally. And usually, the revelation of a relationship’s toxicity doesn’t come until damage has been done, when you are given a moment to breathe and take a moment to collect your thoughts. Quarantine is the perfect pause button on your relationships, a time where you can take a fine toothed comb and check if there are any unhealthy qualities that the relationship exhibits. In that case, a conversation may be necessary.

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Painting together is a perfect activity that doesn’t explicitly need a partner to be next to you. Finding activities that work over video chat can improve your relationships. Photo courtesy of Empty Easel.

Take Part in an Activity Together Virtually

Being stuck in quarantine does not mean you can give up on activities with others. Many games and activities that used to only occur when friends got together have taken alternatives and sometimes become more fun to do virtually. Take for example painting. Painting is an activity that does not directly benefit from a person being physically next to you, but rather from the person’s verbal interactions with you. Even if you can barely draw a stick figure like me, following a Bob Ross Painting tutorial with your friend over video chat is a great way to interact without being physically next to each other.

Some games can even be played over video chat. For my cousin’s 21st birthday, my aunt set up a virtual blackjack night with skillful camera placement. Some games are even meant for a party setting, such as games in the Jackbox Games line, can be easily streamed via screen sharing and played from a great distance.

The purpose of these games and activities is to provide an alternative to chatting. Building a relationship or strengthening one can involve playing games and doing activities like this one, and from it can spring moments that will last forever.

Maintaining a relationship is not easy. It takes a big time commitment for you to ensure that you interact with everyone in your social circle. However, there you personally benefit by strengthening these relationships, no matter that they occur over the phone or video chat. Spending the time to talk to someone, to catch up on their lives during quarantine, or even just chat about the newest Netflix show that you are bingeing will develop your relationship further. And who knows? If you do well enough following that Bob Ross tutorial you might just have a new decor piece for your living room.

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