Simple Socializing in a Pandemic
How do you connect with other people when the whole world is hiding? It’s tough!
In the first crazy rush of the pandemic, it was easy to feel alone and isolated. I missed my friends and craved time with other people.
How could I connect with them? The mandatory six-foot gap got in the way. I just gave up and hibernated at home.
Most days I didn’t leave my pajamas, let alone my house. I saw no one who didn’t live with me. My only conversations were Skype calls with remote co-workers.
I swear there’s a path worn in the carpet between my bed, my desk, the coffeepot, and the couch!
It’s not that I was miserable. I just felt trapped inside the same old routine. Every day felt like the day before. I was stuck in the house, staring at the same four walls.
Something had to give!
If this pandemic is going to continue (and I think we all know it is), I have to find ways to connect with the outside world. There has to be a way to socialize safely while still dodging this nasty virus.
It’s time for some creative thinking!
My Lonely Days Are Done
I’m happy to report, my days of isolation are now over. Never mind the closed restaurants, shuttered stores, and empty streets.
My social calendar is filling up!
- Friday night is my family game night (Catan!)
- Saturday I’m meeting friends at the park.
- Sunday I’ll enjoy some face-to-face time with my extended family.
- Monday I’ll meet four of my closest friends for a glass of wine after work.
All while sheltering in place.
If there was ever a good time for something like COVID-19 to hit, it’s now. There are so many ways to stay connected, so many ways to learn and explore the world without ever leaving your home.
If you haven’t been taking advantage of them, now is a great time to start. Let’s get your calendar filled!
You Need People
Let’s face it, we need human contact and lots of it. That’s why solitary confinement is such brutal punishment.
It’s a fact: people need people. Especially in times like these.
I don’t know about you, but when there is something significant happening in my life (and I think this qualifies!) my instincts are to talk it out with someone.
We may be meeting with a glass of wine in hand, but that doesn’t mean our conversations are frivolous. Connecting with my neighbors, friends, and family is important.
It’s important for you, too.
Socializing helps us come to grips with our situation and find solutions together. As a community, as a species, we need to connect.
We are all in this together.
Connecting from Six Feet Apart
Don’t let this pandemic get you down!
Even if you’re stuck at home without even a pooch for company, you can still have fun and connect in a meaningful way.
Yes, there’s a long list of things you can’t do.
- Dinner parties and restaurant meals? Don’t even think about it.
- Wedding, birthday, and graduation celebrations? Canceled!
- Hugs and handshakes? No can do.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably erased more events off your calendar than you care to think about.
BUT, with a little creativity and common sense, we can still have a good time together.
And you know what? It’s important that we do. Our relationships make us feel good, relieve stress and fortify us. We can’t just cut them off cold turkey.
When times get rough, these connections will carry us through.
What are you doing to connect with your community?
Expand Your Horizons
The borders of your home need not shut you off from the world. If the weather’s nice, why not drag some chairs out to the driveway and greet people as they walk by?
Have your Friday night cocktail on the front porch where you can relax and take in the world outside. Maybe you’ll even start a new neighborhood tradition!
I’ve seen plenty of spontaneous conversations spring up between neighbors on opposite sides of our street. They always make me smile.
On the way to the grocery store? Stop your car, roll down your window and say hello to someone you know. While you’re running your errand, take a deep breath. Enjoy the scenery as you drive past the familiar sights of your town.
When you take a walk (notice I said when not if) forget about the treadmill. Get outside!
There are so many ways to make it enjoyable. Listen to a good playlist or podcast or take a frisky dog for a walk. Haul your bike out of the garage and take it for a spin.
Don’t let this stupid virus make you its prisoner! Get out and enjoy the fresh sounds and smells of spring. You’ll be glad you did.
Walking Partners Welcome
If you have a little extra time, use your walks to explore new neighborhoods or local parks and trails. It’s a safe way to get that change of scene you’re craving (literally!)
Greet the people you see along the way. The kids on their bikes, the dog-walkers, the stroller-pushing moms, the runners — they are all a part of the human tribe. Your tribe.
We need each other.
You may not know them, but you have a great deal in common. We’re all making our way through a difficult time in the best way we can.
Lately, I’ve started meeting friends for my daily walks. We maintain our social distance, omitting our usual hugs at hello and goodbye. Our route is carefully selected to allow us to spread out, WAY out.
That doesn’t stop us from talking! We may be yards apart, walking parallel paths, but we’re still connecting.
You don’t have to go anyplace special. I’ve walked down quiet, wooded trails and spent an hour circling a nearby middle school with a friend. Both were wonderful experiences.
When I return home, my house seems just a little bit bigger. I know I am part of a bigger world.
Connect with Technology
Even from the comfort of your cozy couch, there are endless ways to connect. Best of all, most of them are free.
I was recently introduced to the Marco Polo phone app that allows you to leave a video message. It’s a great resource when WiFi is spotty or friends are unavailable. Just leave your personal mini-movie in their inbox, and they can retrieve it later.
There are also some really good virtual meeting applications. My favorite is Zoom. It works really well for conversations with friends and family.
Zoom meetings are free for 40 minutes and it only takes a minute to download the program. Viola! You’re ready to have a video chat with up to 1,000 of your closest friends!
I love the Brady Bunch style way it displays our faces on my laptop. Right now I’m using it for a weekly Zoom cocktail hour with four of my friends. (BYOB!).
What gatherings have you crossed off your calendar? Who would you love to see? Can you reinvent those gatherings online?
Try it! You’ll be glad you did.
Like many of you, I have a parent living in a senior facility. My father is 90 years old and it breaks my heart to think of him spending months in isolation.
I’ve seen many stories of family members waving to their parents through nursing home windows. It’s a great idea, but there’s one small problem. My father’s apartment is on the second floor. So… unless I develop some serious climbing skills, it’s not going to happen!
Luckily, my dad has somehow mastered Facetime! My siblings and I have set up a rotating call schedule. It ensures he hears from someone every day.
We’ve discovered a few things that make our calls with him more fun. He loves to see what we’re up to. Turning the phone outward shows him what we’re seeing and expands his horizons.
Dad’s watched us cook dinner, walk the dog and check out the bulbs that are starting to pop up in the garden. He’s listened to me curse the squirrels in my back yard for digging up the flower bed. (Ah, spring!)
If he can’t go out, we will bring the world to him. It gives him something to think about outside his small apartment.
Connect by Snail Mail
Remember when it was fun to check the mailbox?
I’ve gotten so used to communicating instantaneously, that I forgot how much pleasure a letter in the mail or an unexpected package can bring. Why not share that pleasure with someone you love?
It’s old fashioned, sure, and it takes a little more time. Hey, it’s not like you’re going anywhere! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
What a great way to connect with someone you love. Don’t wait for a special occasion, just take a moment to let them know you’re thinking about them, and slap on a stamp. I promise you’ll make someone very happy.
I plan on sending some “snail mail” surprise packages to my dad. Nothing fancy, just some little things that will make him smile. Maybe I’ll send a new jigsaw puzzle, or some old photos, or a box of homemade cookies.
Whatever I send, I know it will be appreciated. It will give him something to look forward to (or a pleasant surprise). The closed doors of his home cannot keep me from connecting with him in a tangible way.
If you have more ideas for entertaining and engaging those who are shut-in, please share them in the comments section below. I’d love to hear them.
Let’s Get Creative!
You’ve probably noticed some great ideas circulating in the news and in social media. I certainly have!
Everywhere people are rising to the occasion and inventing creative ways to thrive and connect in the midst of the pandemic.
Here are a few of my favorite examples:
- Elementary teachers delighted their students with a car parade through our town. Honking horns and waving “We Miss You!” signs, they delivered a big dose of happiness to our kids. (Thank you, ISD 77 teachers and staff!)
- Our local library won my heart with their pen pal program for senior center residents. They encourage people of all ages to write letters or reach out in other ways to ease their isolation.
- Staff at senior homes stage hallway games for the resident. It breaks their isolation and provides a few minutes of fun and human contact.
- High school friends plan parking lot rendezvous, parking their cars in a circle and enjoying each other’s company from camp chairs set at a safe distance.
- Neighbors meet outside for morning calisthenics. Their carefully spaced ritual is good for their bodies and great for their morale.
I could go on and on. In fact, I’m going to devote a future post to some of the amazing arts, entertainment and learning opportunities that have sprung out of this crisis. It truly is amazing.
If this pandemic has a bright side, it’s that it’s bringing out the best in us. When we have our backs up against the wall, our best traits shine through.
Every day I am inspired by the generous and creative ways people are fighting this pandemic. I am proud to be a member of the human race.
We prove again and again: we are resilient and unstoppable.
Take that, COVID-19!
Stay well, my friends.