5 Ways to Stay Connected With Your Loved Ones During Social Distancing

The spread of COVID-19 has spurred a series of major changes in day-to-day life. Social Distancing policies meant to flatten the curve have led to a temporary closure of schools, public events, and all non-essential businesses. This means we’re spending less time together, and are essentially in a long-distance relationship with many of our friends, coworkers, and family members. We are social creatures by nature, and it’s important that we focus on staying connected to each other.  

Brittney Scott, LPC and owner of Unshattered Counseling Services in Bossier, stressed that these social distancing policies don’t have to be isolating.

“What we’re doing is distancing physically, not distancing socially. We can use social media to remain social which is going to help us not feel as lonely.” 

We have access to so much technology that enables us to stay connected. Here are 5 ways to stay in touch with your loved ones while under quarantine: 

Use a video chat service

Facetime, Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangout are all great options for face-to-face conversations.  It’s important to experiment with each video conference system and find the one that best suits your needs.

Brittney Scott highly recommends using video chat to talk to friends and loved ones. She says being able to see faces of others helps us feel closer to them. 

Plan a girl’s night in, family gathering, or tune into an Instagram live party. There are so many opportunities to connect via video conference, and the systems are more intuitive and user friendly now than they’ve ever been before.

Have a Netflix Watch Party

This is arguably one of the coolest discoveries I’ve been made aware of in the last week. Before quarantine, I’d never heard of this service, which is a serious shame because one of the best pastimes is sitting on a couch with your best friend gasping over the same plot twist in a movie. Thanks to Netflix Party, a Google Chrome extension, you and your friends can stream the same show simultaneously. In order for it to work, each participant must use ONLY Google Chrome as the browser and have a Netflix subscription. To get Netflix Party, use the following steps:

  1. Go to netflixparty.com (using Google Chrome as your browser)
  2. Click on “Get Netflix Party for Free!”
  3. Click “Add to Chrome,” then “Add extension”
  4. Tell your friends to follow steps 1-3 as well
  5. Go to Netflix.com and pick the show you want to watch
  6. Once you’ve picked something, click “NP,” which should be in the upper right corner of your browser
  7. Click “Start the Party”
  8. A URL will appear after you click “Start the Party,” copy this URL and send it to your friends who have completed steps 1-3. 
  9. Once they open the link, they’ll be prompted to login to their own Netflix accounts and click the “NP” button on their browsers.
  10. Watch and enjoy!

Netflix Party has a chat feature on the right side of the screen so that you can communicate all of your feelings in real-time as you watch, but without having to worry about that one friend who is full of spoilers. 

Go old school with a phone call

Not everyone has Wifi at home, but most of us do have plenty of cell phone minutes. When video chat isn’t an option, simply picking up the phone and having a chat with family members or friends can still foster a sense of connection and keep people without internet access from feeling out of the loop. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I almost always end up cleaning when I’m on a long phone call, so it might be a good way to get the house tidy, too?

Online Gaming 

Online gaming can be done from almost any computer or gaming console. Some games, like Fortnite, are well known for their online multiplayer features. Most games have some kind of multiplayer option, allowing gamers to play against one another or work cooperatively. The best part about it is that there’s something for nearly every interest, whether that’s sports, action-adventure, open world, or horror. You can even play board games in an online multiplayer format, with classics like Uno, Ticket to Ride, and Clue available for purchase. As far as phone apps go, maybe it’s time to revive Words With Friends?    

Engage, Don’t Just Lurk, on Social Media Sites

Twitter is a great place to have a watch party with basically everyone, not just friends. I routinely hop on twitter during season premieres and finales to laugh at the memes and favorite the best tweets. Social media has expanded our social circle to include not just people we encounter in day-to-day life, but also people we’ve never met in person who share common interests, ideas, and humor. It’s important to stay connected with them, too. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok, and even sites like Pinterest and LinkedIn can be good social options. Consider leaving more comments and having positive conversations instead of simply “liking” a post or participating in a fun Tik Tok challenge! 

Quarantine has changed things for many of us, but instead of seeing it as a disruption, Scott encourages people to use it as a time of reflection.

“Use this time to learn how to slow down and connect with yourself and to know that this will pass. This is not forever; this is not going to be our new normal. This is just for now.”

She also recommends that people make plans for their first post-quarantine outing.

“Give yourself something to look forward to. Plan it out and have it scheduled so you can be excited about what is going to come.” 

I know my next Facetime with friends is going to involve quite a bit of post-quarantine planning. It’s going to be hard to decide where to go first. But, for right now, just remember that although we all have to be home, none of us have to be alone. 

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