Even as school and work piles up, it can be difficult to find ways to keep yourself busy and connect with others during social isolation. Staying six feet away from others means no hanging out with friends, and in many states stay-at-home orders restrict leaving for anything non-essential. That said, it can take some creativity to cope with this new normal. Here are seven ideas to help manage social isolation.
Play games online. If you’re a gamer, you’re likely already doing this. If you aren’t, you might not yet be aware of ways to play some of your favorite party games without leaving your house. Pretend You’re Xyzzy is an online clone of Cards Against Humanity. Be aware that this is an adult game with a plethora of offensive cards, but if you’re already familiar with the game that won’t be shocking. If that isn’t your thing, try Jack Box. This party game can be purchased on Steam and is normally played on a TV while participants respond to games from their cell phones; during social isolation, you can stream the game to friends over platforms like Discord.
Revisit an old hobby, or find a new one. Have you wanted to learn to sew for the last six years? Why not start now? Hobbies are a good way to keep busy, and give yourself something to do that feels productive while being fun. If you’re short on materials and don’t want to go out to buy them, try hobbies like writing or drawing that don’t require any. You can also challenge yourself to make art with whatever materials you can find, or repurpose old things by following DIY tutorials.
Get organized and catch up on work. One of the biggest challenges for students in the shift to online schooling can simply be keeping track of all the new and changing responsibilities. Take some time to sit down and figure out what you need to do. Just having a list and knowing what to expect can relieve a lot of stress and make the deadlines more manageable. How you do this is completely up to personal preference: sticky notes, calendar apps, planners. Maybe just a scrap of notebook paper. Do what you need to do to tackle these last few weeks of the semester.
Fix your sleep schedule. For some of us, it can be especially tempting to stay awake all hours of the night, such as when I’m writing this. However, this can make it difficult to make online meetings in the morning or early afternoon, or even just to get enough sunlight and feel as though you’ve been productive with your day. This can add a lot of stress to your life. If you feel as though your sleep schedule has been becoming a problem, try to tackle the problem and remind yourself to settle down sooner rather than later in the night.
Keep in touch--talk on the phone or send some letters. Letters might sound a little old fashioned, but they’re also a good way to show someone you care and a way to express creativity. In times like these, we have to keep away from people like grandparents to protect them, but remember that it can be hard for them to be alone. Even a quick phone call can be a good way to just check in and see how they’re doing.
Use technology to keep up with friends. While social media has its downsides, it can also be a reminder just to chat and see what your friends are doing. Alternatively, you can start a Discord server to keep communication with just your close circle of friends. Because calls are open channels, you can stay in a call with your mic muted until a friend joins you. If neither of these work for you, Netflix Party is an extension for Chrome that will sync video and add a group chat to any Netflix video. It isn’t quite the same as watching a movie together in person, but it isn’t a bad substitute either.
Go outside and enjoy the nice weather. When all else fails and you just can’t stay inside anymore, try taking a walk. For a lot of people, just getting outside can make a big difference in mood after being stuck in the house for too long. If you choose to go to a local park, just remember to stay six or more feet away from other people you encounter. If you’re especially busy or just don’t feel like going for a long walk, have your coffee (or tea) on your porch in the morning.
Most importantly, stay safe during this difficult time. Remember to keep up with CDC guidelines and your particular state’s recommendations for what to do during the pandemic. Even though social distancing is difficult, a new hobby or tightening a lost connection can help you get out of any funk you may find yourself in.