In 2020, a whole new phrase entered our vocabulary and has persisted today: “social distancing.” Because of the pandemic, we’ve seen restaurants move outside with tables spread apart, limited capacity in stores, curtailment of indoor concerts, sporting events, and other large indoor gatherings.
But there’s also a toll that weighs heavily on us: being away from our loved ones. If you have family members and close friends who are susceptible to COVID-19 — whether it’s because they are older, have a comorbidity, or live so far away that travel during the pandemic isn’t practical — it has probably been months, even a full year since you’ve had the chance to see them and socialize with them.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep in touch during this period of social distancing. Julia Aspen, writing for Independence Blue Cross in the healthy living website phillyvoice.com, has outlined ways to keep in touch with loved ones while social distancing.
While many of us already feel like we spend the whole day video conferencing for school or work, technology offers an amazing way to keep in touch. Seeing another person’s face while speaking makes both parties feel more connected to each other. Visual cues and body language are important in communication, and at a time where it’s reasonable to have concern for your loved ones, seeing them can help put everyone’s anxieties at ease.
Send something special
Make your presence known in a more analog way: send your loved ones something. Delivery services have rapidly grown during COVID-19, which means virtually anything — from flowers to food to books — are available for you to order and send to family members. You could even combine this old-school approach with technology, and coordinate a remote cooking night with common ingredients, or play the same game socially-distanced over video.
Get together — safely
Of course, being socially distant does still allow for some in-person interactions. If your loved ones are within driving distance, you may have the option to safely meet face-to-face if everyone feels comfortable and follows state and city guidelines. A socially distanced hike in one of the many parks in the area is great exercise and follows social distancing guidelines. Small picnics, gathering on a deck or in the backyard, and other small outdoor activities can be done while keeping everyone 6 feet apart (and wearing their masks!).
A simple phone call or text
A final tip: be spontaneous and show you care. The activities above are great, but require coordination and planning. At a time of isolation, there’s nothing like receiving an unexpected phone call or text message from a loved one to brighten your day — pick up the phone, check in, and stay in touch with people to ensure they’re doing well.
“These efforts are healthy both for you and your loved ones,” writes Aspen “Social distancing, if it becomes isolation, can have negative effects on both your mental and physical health: anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Even though we’re doing things differently, keeping in touch can keep you upbeat and positive as you and your family work toward the day when life returns to something a little bit more ‘normal.’”