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Four Ways to Maintain Social Closeness while Practicing Social Distancing

The latest recommendations for what we should do to help flatten the curve and prevent the spread of COVID-19 include social distancing. Social distancing means keeping a distance of at least six feet between you and everyone else and going out only when needed. It means no parties, group events, dinners at the restaurant, or nights at the movie theater.

But, if we’re hunkered down inside and not seeing our coworkers or friends in person, how do we stay connected to our social networks? Luckily, many options exist in our modern world of technology. Try out a few of the ideas below and see which ones work best for you.

Call two friends or family members every day

Pick up the phone and give them a ring. Better yet, video chat with them if you can. FaceTime is a great option if both callers have iPhones, or try the free Google Duo app, which allows video chatting between different types of phones. Hearing each other’s voice and having a true conversation can help us feel connected and not so alone, even if the only other living thing you’re spending time with these days is your dog.

Share a virtual dinner with friends (using your phone or computer)

Are you missing your typical Saturday night dinners with friends? Invite some friends to have dinner together, but use a virtual platform like FaceTime, Google Dup, or Zoom to spend the time together instead of coming together in person. Order take-out from the same local restaurant or decide on one meal that you can all easily whip up for yourselves. Set up your phone or computer at the table, connect online, and chow down with some great company.

Start a virtual book club

Are you spending your evenings reading instead of hanging out with friends? Pick a book or two and ask a few buddies if they’d like to start a virtual book club to discuss them. Everyone can make a cup of tea, cozy up on the couch, and chat together as if you were all in the same cozy living room. Try an outline video conferencing platform like Zoom or Google Hangouts for your next virtual book club.

Have a movie night

Netflix Party, a free extension of Google Chrome, allows you to watch movies with your friends from around the country at the same time. It synchronizes the movie so you and your friends can watch remotely at exactly the same time, and it even has a chat option so you can interact with your friends while the movie is streaming. Finally, you can be that person who talks through the whole movie!

Give back to your community

Supporting a local charity or volunteering your time can be a great way to stay connected while also creating a greater sense of purpose in your day. Even the act of supporting local businesses by ordering gift cards or take-out can create a stronger sense of community.

Groups are forming to help coordinate volunteer efforts during this pandemic. For example, Sitka Mutual Aid (found on Facebook at Sitka Mutual Aid-Covid19) is an online forum where you can sign up to donate money, grocery shop, pick up prescriptions, or deliver food to those who are homebound. The program matches requests for help with offers of support. Think about what you can offer during this unique time.

All in all, do your best to stay connected with those you love during this challenging time. Let technology be your friend!

For more information about COVID-19 in Southeast, visit https://covid19.searhc.org/.

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The SEARHC Crisis Help Line, 1.877.294.0074, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to residents of Southeast Alaska.