Humans are social creatures. We are told this our whole lives. However, building positive social relationships with others — whether romantic or platonic — can be hard, especially in stressful situations like a global pandemic.

The CDC has started calling for people to self-quarantine if they can and practice social distancing when they can’t, which means most of us are staying home more and seeing people less. Many people have already been self-isolating for a few weeks, especially if they have been traveling recently or are in a higher risk group. Staying home more may be appealing to some people, but no matter how introverted or extroverted you are, being alone gets lonely after a while. So, how can we prevent the spread of coronavirus without getting lonely and risking harm to our mental health?

The answer is simple: communication. Here are a few ways you can socialize while still practicing social distancing!

Reach out

This is a great opportunity to reach out to people you haven’t talked to in a while! Checking on that friend you lost touch with, texting family members, and re-starting group chats are great places to start with reaching out to people. Some people may not even respond, but they will appreciate that you reached out!

While it isn’t the same as talking to someone in person, a few texts can help you feel more connected to other people and the outside world.

Remember that your phone makes calls too

Just about everyone has a phone, and now’s the time to use it for what it was originally made for: calls. That’s right, calling people on the phone is still a thing! From grandma to your best friend, chances are everyone in your life has a phone number you can call, and it’s a quick and easy way to feel more connected while you’re self-isolating.

If you prefer video, there are tons of options right now for free video calls with people all over the world! Many phones have pre-installed video calling software, like FaceTime, but there are also plenty of free apps you can download like Skype, Discord, and Zoom. With these apps, you can have an online party with your friends no matter where they are in the world!

Whether you’re already using video calls every day for work or you’re new to them, it’s pretty awesome that we can use the internet to see friends and family and “visit” relatives who are self-isolating without risking anyone’s health.

Play Games, Watch Movies, Just do Something Together!

Communication aside, what exactly can you do with people aside from talking with them? If conversation runs dry or you need a distraction, there are plenty of opportunities for you to participate in group activities online!

If you’re loving the opportunity to binge-watch your favorite shows, you should check out NetflixParty! It’s a free Chrome extension that allows multiple people to watch the same movie or tv show, at the same time, on Netflix regardless of location.

If binging Netflix isn’t your thing, there are tons of cheap games online that you can stream via Discord’s screen share service. iPhone users also have access to GamePigeon in iMessages, and there are lots of free games to play through Facebook Messenger too! Now’s also a great time to use online playing capabilities on any gaming consoles you own to play with friends and family.

It’s getting crazy out there, from toilet paper aisles to drive-throughs, but we can all get through this together. Remember to wash your hands, follow the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing as much as possible, and take care of your mental health.

Happy video calling!

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