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Can We Still Maintain a Social Life While Social Distancing?



Can We Still Maintain a Social Life While Social Distancing?

Hands up who’s missing loved ones? All of us, right? With travel plans, weddings, important anniversary parties and birthday celebrations all being put on hold, the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic are far reaching. 

Quite aside from the fear of catching the virus, or knowing a loved one who might, as time and social distancing measures continue, more and more of us are being affected by COVID-19. What may have felt like scaremongering a few months ago, is now a harsh reality.

We humans are a sociable bunch and human to human interaction is, and always has been, crucial to our survival. In fact, studies have shown that loneliness can have the same impact on our mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making loneliness worse for our long term health than obesity. 

When our social needs are met, we’re happier, healthier and more productive. Even if we crave alone time, feeling isolated for days, weeks and months on end can have negative effects on our mental health, so it’s crucial that we have regular human interaction.

But how do we stay connected through social distancing? One way is to stay in touch via telephone or video calling. Video calling can be via Skype, WhatsApp or FaceTime or one of the newer platforms such as Zoom. Most can include multiple participants, so you can chat to groups of people at a time. This means that you can arrange an evening to have a virtual drinks party, play boardgames together (assuming you all have the same boardgame and can bend the rules a little to suit) or simply have a chat as if you were all in a coffee shop or bar together.

Birthdays and anniversaries can also be celebrated online, with the “blowing out of the candles” moment shared with family members and loved ones via video calling. If you all have or bake the same cake, you can all tuck into the ‘same’ cake at the same time, too! 

Online tours of zoos, art galleries and museums are now also a thing, and our online community on Facebook is a great place for chatting to and sharing tips with likeminded people.

But our social lives in these testing times don’t have to be completely online. Now is a good time to reconnect with your partner or perhaps your older kids that tend to spend all their time out of the house under normal circumstances.

If you’re in a house full of people, invite them all to a special dinner. Sit around the table or in your living room with the TV switched off and talk. Some family members might take a while to loosen up without digital distractions, but you might be surprised how much you all have to talk about! Or why not get out the old photos and have a life together as a family as you reminisce? And of course, failing that, there’s always family movie night. Even if you’re not talking to one another, all being in the same room sharing the same experience can be just as nourishing.

Eventually, things will return to normal. But until then, stay calm and breathe some deep breaths. In the words of Dame Vera Lynn and the Queen, we will meet again x

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