staying home How to Stay Social While You’re Social Distancing

How to Stay Social While You’re Social Distancing

Photo by Nadia Bormotova/Getty Images 
You already know it: Social distancing is essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

If we do this today, we can travel again tomorrow. But even for the most extreme introverts, a few weeks of isolation might leave you trying to strike up a conversation with your houseplants. There are still several ways to create some semblance of a social life right now – albeit virtually – and, surprisingly, they’ve left us feeling more connected. Here, a few of our favorite tips.

Host a virtual happy hour.

Choose your preferred video-conferencing platform (we like Zoom, but Google Hangouts and Skype are also great), invite your friends, whip up a cocktail, and settle in for a round – or three. Bonus points if you assign a theme to the fete: tiki drinks only, an Italian-inspired aperitivo hour, or even a black-tie affair. (Some of us could use an excuse to change out of our sweatpants for a few hours.) Sure, we might still be drinking alone in our living rooms, but the conversation will sparkle just as much as if you’re at the bar down the street – or if you use one of our Zoom travel backgrounds, canalside in the middle of Amsterdam. 

Get your game on.

Like a virtual happy hour, but with a little competition thrown in. The Party Packs from Jackbox Games include everything from classic trivia showdowns to interactive drawing challenges and wacky murder mysteries. Everyone uses their smartphones to join an online “game room.” Usually, you’re all together, but here’s a social distancing hack: Buy a Jackbox Party Pack for Mac or PC, set up a Zoom meeting with friends, launch the game, and use Zoom’s “Share Screen” setting.
For parents with children at home – and a genuine need to keep them entertained – set up a game-themed virtual playdate for kids and their friends. Have everyone print out bingo cards, nominate a designated bingo caller, and let the fun begin.  

Living room, yoga studio, or both? 
Living room, yoga studio, or both? 
Photo by Yulka Popkova/Getty Images

Don’t skip the “gym.”

All you need is a yoga mat and a TV to turn your living room into a fitness studio. Several popular online fitness-streaming platforms are offering discounts and extended free trials right now. The Peloton App is free for 90 days, and you don’t have to own one of the company’s stationary bikes or treadmills to take advantage of its yoga, meditation, and strength-training classes. Orangetheory Fitness is posting a new 30-minute workout on its YouTube channel every morning; Barry’s Bootcamp and Lululemon are streaming live workouts via their Instagram accounts; and The Equinox Hotel, New York City recently shared its am and pm Rituals online. Smaller, locally owned studios are live-streaming their classes online too – check in with them on social media.

Netflix and chat.

Some Netflix guilty pleasures are meant to be watched alone (we don’t need to share our affinity for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before with others), but some are more fun with a crowd. The streaming giant’s new Netflix Party Google Chrome extension lets groups simultaneously stream movies and shows together on their computers. A group leader controls pause and play, while everyone is free to comment in a chat box on the right side of the screen. Need some suggestions? Here’s what we’re watching now.

Pick up the phone.

It’s amazing how much a five-minute conversation can do for your mental health – and your need for a little human connection. Skip the text and instead give someone a call – your grandma, your best friend, a former colleague. Just say hi, check in, and maybe start daydreaming about future vacations.

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