To help slow the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) we have all been asked to play our part and to practice social distancing. This means that in the coming weeks we must choose to stay at home and not socialise with our friends in the way we used to.
The situation that we are living in now is unlike anything we have experienced before and changing how we live our lives will bring new challenges to both our mental health and overall wellbeing.
At SpunOut.ie, we are here to support you during the pandemic by providing information to help you stay happy and healthy. Currently, we do not know how long this situation will last and because of that is it important that we all prioritise staying well in the long run. This means finding ways to make staying inside work for you, your family and your friends.
Here are our suggestions on how to stay connected with friends while practicing social distancing.
10 ways to stay connected while social distancing
Make plans to spend time online with your friends
Just as you would have made plans to spend time with your friends on the weekend or after work or school, do the same together online. Choose a film to watch together, share a meal or play a game using video platforms such as Zoom, Facebook Messenger or Google Hangout. Set aside time that you know you can look forward to spending with your friends at the end of the day. If a friend’s birthday party has been postponed due to the pandemic, make an effort to celebrate online with them instead. We have a unique opportunity here to choose how we spend our free time, so get creative and prioritising having fun together.
Start a book club
Enjoying a shared activity with friends is a great way to stay connected, regardless of whether you can physically spend time with one another or not. Choosing a book that you can read with friends both gives you an option to fill some of your alone time, and a reason to meet up and discuss something together. With video chat features on Skype, Google and Facebook you can find a platform that works for you and your friends to meet up on. If you do not have the book at home there are plenty of options to buy it online or to borrow it virtually from your local library.
Make the most out of games on apps
From scrabble and chess, to table quizzes and bowling you can find most games to play online with your friends without having to be together. Check out your app store to find hundreds of games to keep you and your friends entertained for hours. Can’t find a game you like? Challenge your friends to come up with one you can play together. Now is the time to get inventive.
Video call whenever you can
If you are feeling lonely, now is the perfect time to video call someone. Whether it is your best friend down the road or your family living abroad, the internet can connect us to whoever we want within seconds. Video calling someone does not mean you have to sit down and speak to them for an hour, instead let the conversation flow in the background as you go about your daily activities.
Reach out to those who need it most
Some people may find social distancing harder than others and it is important to prioritise your friends who may experience heightened difficulties during this time. Thinking of ways to connect with those who need it most can help to fill time in your day, and brighten theirs. Get creative with what you can do. Find ways to share stories, music, books and film recommendations. Share a meal together over video or just do what you would normally do when together and sit around and have a chat.
Appreciate those around you
Practicing social distancing may mean spending a lot of your time with the people you live with, such as your family, partner or housemates. When spending a long period of time with any one person, it can be easy for you to begin to get on each other’s nerves, but it is important to try and support each other and make the most of your time together. Make a list of things you can do together around the house, work out with each other and encourage each other to prioritise your mental health and wellbeing during this time. You have the opportunity to shape how and those important to you spend your time while social distancing.
Use social media for good
Social media is a great way to connect with people all around the world and we may find ourselves spending more and more time on it as we practice social distancing. Take this opportunity to connect with friends through social media. Share experiences of how you are staying well and share information to encourage others to prioritise their health.
Many organisations and businesses are starting to move their work online to give people the opportunity to get involved and stay involved. If you find an organisation or group you’re interested in getting involved with, drop them an email or call them and see if they have online opportunities. Volunteer Ireland has information about volunteering opportunities across Ireland.
SpunOut.ie’s volunteering opportunities are all possible to do from home. We’re always interested in articles from young people across Ireland as well as your thoughts on the content we create for the site. Find out more about getting involved.
Take virtual tours together
Some museums are now offering virtual tours you can take of different exhibitions. Although it may not be the same as going there in person, have some fun and organise to take a virtual tour with your friends. You may discover places you would like to visit once the pandemic is over.
Go on dates
Many of us may currently be living with our parents and may be temporarily separated from the person we are dating. This can be really difficult, as it is hard to be away from the people we care about and you may miss being able to kiss and cuddle and show affection for one another. Lots of people experience times in their lives when they cannot be with their partners, such as if they are doing long distance, and they find ways to stay close even with miles of distance between them.
Get creative with your partner and come up with ways you can enjoy a date night together while still being apart. Watch movies, play games and spend time focusing on the positives in your relationship that you look forward to sharing together again in the future.
Have you found other ways to stay connected? Share with us your experience and let other people know how to make the most of their time while prioritising self distancing.
Feeling overwhelmed or anxious around the current pandemic?
- Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
- Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
- Text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
- Find out more about our text message support service
This situation is completely new to everyone involved and it is normal to feel worried or anxious about what is going on. Following the Government’s instructions on how to stay safe and help slow the spread of the virus, can help to make you feel more in control of your current situation.
If you feel overwhelmed by the current situation and need someone to talk to, our anonymous, 24 hour text line is always open. You’re worth talking about and we’re here to listen and support you.