At this point, most of us have lost count of the hilarious memes we’ve seen, finding humor in a situation that can at times feel uncertain at best. With directives ranging from “social distancing” to “shelter in place,” we know that the best thing we can do right now, for our own good and for the greater good, is to simply stay home. Given the creature comforts in most of our homes—full pantries, cozy sofas, books to be read, and more television channels than we know what to do with—there are certainly worse places to be.
 
Yet, it’s a challenge to go from daily hellos, handshakes, and hugs to a fairly solitary routine for the near future. As humans, we crave social interaction. It’s actually good for our health! That’s why it’s important that we don’t let the current physical limitations on our social scene stop us from making daily connections with friends and family.
 
Need a few suggestions for staying social—at a safe distance? Here are some ideas to keep you stay connected while you do your part to #juststayhome and #flattenthecurve.
 
Host a virtual happy hour. Craving a girls’ or guys’ night out? Invite your friends to join you for a BYOB happy hour over Zoom or Google Hangouts. You could choose an over-the-top theme to get everyone out of their pajamas—like denim and diamonds, totally 80s, or prom night. Or just encourage your guests to get dressed up like you’re going out on the town. Then put some good music on, pour your drinks, and enjoy some great company.
 
Make a masterpiece together. Feeling stressed by social distancing? Studies have shown that creating art reduces stress hormones. So grab whatever art supplies you have on hand at home, ask your friends to do the same, and join each other for a virtual art night in. You could all try to create the same thing (like a virtual paint and sip event) or just work on your own works of art as you chat.
 
Stay accountable with a workout buddy. Sure, the fitness center is closed. But if you commit to check in with a friend each day for FaceTime yoga or a Zumba session over Zoom, you’ll burn some calories, gain some energy, and get a chance to catch up and socialize. You could even make a plan with a neighbor to head outside, put on some tunes, and do a workout together—each in your own driveway.
 
Teach someone a new skill. If you have grandkids that are home and bored, or a friend who could use some company, you could offer to teach them a fun new skill during this unplanned downtime. Hop on FaceTime or Google Hangouts and lead a cooking class in your kitchen, teach them how to knit, or give them a virtual piano lesson. They’ll learn something new, and you’ll both enjoy the time together.
 
Connect with your book club. Social distancing shouldn’t stop you from gathering with your book club. You can have great discussions and just as many laughs when you meet up through a video chat. Don’t have a book club? Now is as good a time as any to start one up. Just pick a highly rated read that’s available as an e-book and invite your friends to join you!
 
Plan a future trip with friends. It’s natural to feel some wanderlust when you’ve been told to stay at home. So this is a perfect time to get your friends or family on board with planning a group trip for 2021! You can brainstorm via video chat or email, start researching your options, and have fun daydreaming of your next great adventure with your favorite people.
 
Share the local love. Want to support small businesses during this challenging time? Hop on Facebook and start a “Local Love” post. Name one of your favorite local small businesses, let your friends know what makes it so special, and tell them how they can support it during this challenging time. Then invite your friends to add comments doing the same with the favorite local businesses.
 
Volunteer for a worthy cause. One great way to feel connected to your community is by volunteering—and right now there are lots of ways that you can make a difference! Deliver a meal to a friend who’s working hard at a hospital. Offer to grocery shop for a high-risk neighbor. Put your sewing skills to use to make masks that can be donated to medical centers. Or, contact a local nursing home and ask if there are residents who could use some cheering up with a phone call. That’s the kind of social interaction that’s sure to warm your heart.
  
Before we know it, we’ll be back together again, able to hang out with our neighbors, raise a glass with our friends, and embrace the ones we love. In the meantime, we can make the best of these times with some creative connections.
 
What innovative ways have you found to stay social—from a distance? Feel free to share them in a comment below!

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